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The neighbor from hell: How years of harassment ended in death

Tribune Washington Bureau logoTribune Washington Bureau 8/19/2016 Hannah Allam
This undated image provided by the Tulsa County Jail shows Stanley Majors. Police say Khalid Jabara was killed at his Tulsa, Okla., home Friday, Aug. 12, 2016, and 61-year-old Stanley Majors is being held without bail on a first-degree murder complaint. © Tulsa County Jail via AP This undated image provided by the Tulsa County Jail shows Stanley Majors. Police say Khalid Jabara was killed at his Tulsa, Okla., home Friday, Aug. 12, 2016, and 61-year-old Stanley Majors is being held without bail on a first-degree murder complaint.

WASHINGTON — They just wanted to make it to October.

The Jabaras had set their sights on a trial date – Oct. 3 – and believed they would finally prevail in their five-year legal battle to protect themselves from their neighbor, Vernon Stanley Majors, a convicted felon who police and court records say relentlessly harassed the family.

Instead, the family will hold a funeral this week for Khalid Jabara, the quiet, quirky brother who was shot and killed on his own porch last Friday in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Majors faces a murder charge in connection with the slaying, which has drawn national attention because of the harassment he is said to have levied at the Jabaras based on their Lebanese roots, leading to calls for the prosecution of the case as a hate crime.

In an interview, members of the Jabara family – Khalid’s brother, Rami, sister, Vicky, and sister-in-law, Jenna – described in detail how an annoying next-door neighbor became a presence so terrifying that the family installed a security camera and bought a barrier to fortify the front door.

Rami Jabara said he emailed Tulsa law enforcement officials many times warning that Majors was unpredictable, “saying we have no idea what this guy is going to do next.”

Tulsa police and court records back up key points of the family’s account, which portrays Khalid Jabara as an introverted, naive man who lived with his parents and was devoted to helping them with their health needs and catering business. He had few friends, so he cherished the kinship he found in a next-door neighbor, a man in his 70s who uses a cane, a fellow devotee of what the family called “nerdy” pursuits – tinkering with radios and electronics.

The friendship was interrupted when the elderly man’s romantic partner – it’s unclear whether the men ever married – arrived from California in about 2011. Not long after moving in, Majors started harassing Jabara and made it clear that he was persona non grata. Majors’ hostility soon spread to the rest of the family.

He invoked their Arab identity so many times over the years they say they can’t recall the first time it happened. He bombarded them with crudely written letters, threatening emails from an “anonymous” sender and creepy phone calls. When the family discovered that Majors, 61, was a fugitive from California – wanted at the time in connection with violation of his parole – they turned him in.

“We thought, ‘Yay, we got rid of him; they extradited him to California,’ but what really happened is that when he came out eight months or so later, he just had more revenge for us,” recalled Vicky Jabara. “Every time we called the cops on him, the reaction was more and more dangerous. But what are we supposed to do? Not call the cops?”

In 2013, the mother, Haifa, obtained a protective order against Majors, detailing his stalker-like behavior and describing his racism toward foreigners and black people. Majors tried to take out a restraining order against her and failed, but succeeded in getting a protective order against Khalid Jabara. His siblings said it was awarded by default because he’d failed to show up for court.

Khalid Jabara © Victoria Jabara Williams via facebook Khalid Jabara Majors has a trial pending on a misdemeanor violation of his restraining order stemming from last Easter, when he was accused of drinking on the lawn while yelling at and photographing guests as they arrived for the Jabaras’ holiday gathering.

The second alleged violation of that protective order was much worse. On Sept. 12, 2015, Haifa was struck by a car and left with severe injuries. The police report shows that when Majors was arrested in that incident, he was drunk and gave several different versions of what had occurred.

The judge in that case ordered Majors held with no bond, given the likelihood of another attack on the Jabaras. But then Majors found a new defense attorney who successfully argued for reinstating bond. He made bail and was released at the end of May. He moved back in next door.

For the first time in the Jabara family’s memory, Majors mostly left them alone, and the family looked forward to October and the prospect of seeing Majors locked up, finally.

Then came the news of Khalid Jabara’s death Friday. Some of the details are still sketchy but, according to the family and the authorities, Majors’ elderly partner alerted Khalid Jabara and Tulsa Police that Majors was attacking him and was armed.

By the time the police arrived, the elderly man had left the home, so the officers didn’t stick around much longer. Tulsa Police Sgt. Dave Walker said the police officers left the scene at 6:40 p.m. and that the first reports of shots fired came in at 6:48 – just eight minutes later.

“You can what-if this thing to death,” Walker said. “Knowing what we know right now, would we have done something differently? Absolutely, yes.”

The Jabara family said they’re outraged at what they called they’ve called the “negligence” of a system that allowed a serial harasser with a violent criminal record to continue living next door to his victims. For all their years working through Tulsa’s criminal and civil courts, they were unable to win protection from Majors.

“This guy won,” Vicky Jabara said. “If he had a vendetta, he won.”

Hannah Allam: 202-383-6186, @HannahAllam

Photo: Victoria Jabara Williams via facebook

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