Criminal charges keep coming for Abdulrahman Zeitoun, the local Syrian-American painting contractor who became a literary symbol for post-Katrina injustice and perseverance, then later was tried but acquitted of trying to kill his ex-wife, Kathy.
Already stranded in Orleans Parish Prison for violating the terms of his pretrial release on a felony charge of stalking her, Zeitoun, 57, was charged anew this week on three counts of disobeying a protective order.
Criminal District Court Judge Keva Landrum-Johnson on Wednesday rejected a bid to release him, instead scheduling an arraignment on the new charges and a bond hearing for Nov. 20.
Two of the fresh counts stem from phone calls Zeitoun allegedly made to Kathy Zeitoun in August and on Oct. 4, when he called her with a holiday greeting. In the other instance, Zeitoun showed up Sept. 16 at a house in the 4600 block of Dart Street that the divorced couple still own together, and where one of their daughters was staying. He banged on the door and demanded to be let in, according to a police report.
Landrum-Johnson had banned Zeitoun from visiting the property, which has since been added to a civil restraining order. Kathy Zeitoun claims her ex-husband is “purposely taunting her” with his repeated attempts to reach her.
In July 2013, Criminal District Court Judge Frank Marullo acquitted Abdulrahman Zeitoun of charges that he tried to beat Kathy Zeitoun to death with a tire iron in the Lower Garden District in July 2012, then offered a fellow inmate $20,000 to finish the job.
The alleged violence seemed to fly in the face of acclaimed author Dave Eggers’ adoring account of the couple, their tight marriage and business partnership, and their struggles after Abdulrahman Zeitoun was locked up on bogus charges in the wake of the storm. Eggers’ 2009 book, “Zeitoun,” had been slated to be adapted to the big screen, but those plans were scrapped in the wake of the attempted murder allegations.
Since his acquittal, Zeitoun has been in and out of jail — mostly in lately. He was rebooked Oct. 16 after Kathy Zeitoun reported the most recent phone call. District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office has filed a motion to keep him there.
The pending stalking charge, contained in an indictment handed up this summer, stems from four alleged run-ins with Kathy Zeitoun between Jan. 26 and May 16, allegedly in violation of a Civil District Court order that bars him from visiting nine specified properties they own jointly.
The allegations don’t include any claims of violence. One incident allegedly involved “an intimidating stare.” Another involved a drive-by in which Zeitoun allegedly drove by his daughter “at an extremely slow pace” and raised his hand in what the daughter described as “a half-ass wave.”
Zeitoun’s attorney, J.C. Lawrence, blames many of the charges on a running fight over debts that have accumulated on the properties since the couple divorced.
Still, Lawrence acknowledged that the holiday call on Oct. 4, which he called “inadvertent,” technically violated the civil and criminal restraining orders.
“He’s a man who has four children he hasn’t seen for four years,” Lawrence said. “Is he concerned? He’s concerned. Is he angry at her? No. He’s resigned himself that he will have nothing to do with her.”
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.