Fate of Shafias now in the jury's hands

Crown wraps up closing arguments after a delay caused by a bomb scare

Now it’s in the hands of the jury.

After a bomb scare prompted a brief intermission Thursday, the Crown wrapped up closing arguments in the Shafia “honour killing” at the Frontenac County Court House in Kingston, Ont., where Mohammed Shafia, his wife Tooba Yahya and their 21-year-old son Hamed have each plead not guilty to four counts of first degree murder.

Their blockbuster trial has grabbed the attention of people across the country since it began on Oct. 20. The evidence brought forward by the Crown has painted the Shafias as deeply driven by a concept of family honour — to the point where they decided to kill off four family members in order to, as Crown prosecutor Laurie Lacelle put it Thursday, “remove the diseased limb” from their family tree.

The three accused are charged with killing three Shafia sisters Zainab, Sahar and Geeti, aged 19, 17 and 13, as well as Rona Amir, Shafia’s first wife in a clandestine polygamous marriage. Their bodies were found strapped into the seatbeats of a submerged Nissan in the Rideau Canal in Kingston. The Crown has argued that the accused had planned to kill the four women and had pushed their vehicle into the water by prodding it with their own Lexus. Police recovered bits of headlight from their car on the scene, which the Crown presented as evidence during the months-long trial.

Justice Robert Maranger will begin charging the jury to determine the Shafia’s guilt Friday morning.

UPDATE (1 p.m. EST): Justice Robert Maranger issues his 200-page charge to the jury, indicating that they are allowed to deliver a verdict of second degree murder against some or all of the accused. All three face the possibility of conviction on first degree murder charges. A second degree murder charge does not require the same proof of planning and premeditation.

“If you are left with a reasonable doubt,” said Maranger, quoted by the CBC, “you’d find the accused not guilty.”

The jury will deliberate through the weekend.

Victoria Times-Colonist

The Globe and Mail





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