Literary hero Abdulrahman Zeitoun to remain jailed, judge rules _lowres

Abdulrahman Zeitoun

Abdulrahman Zeitoun will remain behind bars for at least a few more weeks as he awaits a Sept. 12 hearing to determine his bail for allegedly stalking his ex-wife and, more recently, violating a protective order.

Zeitoun, the protagonist of author Dave Eggers’ acclaimed 2009 account of post-Katrina injustice, “Zeitoun,” was sent back to jail last week for allegedly violating a protective order by telephoning Kathy Zeitoun on Aug. 16. Because of that allegation, Criminal District Court Judge Keva Landrum-Johnson revoked Zeitoun’s $50,000 cash bond in the stalking case.

Last year, Judge Frank Marullo acquitted Zeitoun on charges of trying to kill Kathy Zeitoun and then allegedly asking a fellow Orleans Parish jail inmate to kill her for $20,000.

Since then, the painting contractor has twice landed back in jail, accused of menacing Kathy Zeitoun over a period of several months.

Zeitoun, 56, appeared in court Tuesday before Landrum-Johnson delayed the scheduled bail hearing.

Assistant District Attorney David Pipes said he will argue that the judge should raise Zeitoun’s bail to $250,000, the original amount set after his indictment in June.

Zeitoun’s attorney, J.C. Lawrence, acknowledges Zeitoun made the phone call but says he was just trying to offer his ex-wife the couple’s assets. Lawrence said he plans to subpoena Kathy Zeitoun to testify at the bail hearing.

The last time she took the witness stand, at the murder trial last year, Kathy Zeitoun said her ex-husband beat her with a tire iron and tried to kill her at Prytania Street and Jackson Avenue in July 2012. She also has testified that Zeitoun’s abuse of her started many years earlier.

Kathy Zeitoun says her ex-husband has continued to make contact with her, directly or through third parties, under the guise of hashing out a deal to split up their properties. But she says it’s just a ruse and that he has refused to come to terms over nine New Orleans properties that she says are hemorrhaging money.

In the recent phone call, Zeitoun asked her to “draw up a document and I will sign over entire properties to you,” according to a tape recording of the call. “Because in the end, nobody’s going to have anything, the way we’re going.”

Lawrence has described the allegations against Zeitoun as the result of “a divorce that has gone bad, on steroids.”

But Kathy Zeitoun called it a threatening, continuing pattern of attempts by her ex-husband to stay connected to her.

She also disputed a claim by Lawrence that she lodged a complaint about the phone call only after Zeitoun later insisted that he be allowed to keep one of the properties to live in.

She said she never received any such letter from him and that she’s struggling financially, having never received any support from Zeitoun for herself or their four children since their divorce a few years ago.

Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.