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LIC producer charged in grisly slay of filmmaker

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A Long Island City man has been charged with murdering and dismembering an Afghan filmmaker after arguing over proceeds from his movie, police said.

Nathan Chandler Powell, 38, allegedly beat and stabbed Jawed Wassel to death in his apartment at 21-07 Borden Ave. Oct. 3 as a result of a business dispute, Detective Lt. Frank Guidice of the Nassau County Police Department said Monday.

The murder was not being investigated as a bias incident and was considered unrelated to the American military offensive in Afghanistan, Guidice said.

Powell, the primary investor and producer in Wassel’s film, has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the crime, Guidice said. He is being held in Nassau County Jail without bail and would face a sentence of 25 years to life if convicted.

Wassel, 42, a New York filmmaker originally from Afghanistan, had written and directed an autobiographical movie called “Firedancer” about the experience of Afghan refugees in America. But he never made it to the film’s Oct. 3 screening in Manhattan.

“They had an agreement about funding, that agreement changed, then the men argued,” said Guidice.

Police suspect Powell murdered Wassel right before the Oct. 3 screening, then dismembered the body and attempted to dispose of it last Thursday, Guidice said.

Wassel’s friends reported him missing when he failed to appear at the screening for his own film. His body was discovered last Thursday in the back of Powell’s vehicle, Guidice said.

Officers stopped Powell near Bethpage State Park in Nassau County and searched the vehicle after noticing a shovel and two boxes with splashes of blood in the rear, Guidice said.

Wassel’s dismembered body was uncovered in the boxes, while his head was later discovered in the refrigerator of his Long Island City residence, police said.

Police believed Powell had already tried to bury the body nearby but hastily abandoned the idea for unknown reasons, Guidice said.

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.

Posted 7:25 pm, October 10, 2011
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