Victim impact statements discuss how Toronto neurosurgeon 'destroyed' lives by killing his wife
Two and a half years ago, Mohammed Shamji killed his wife Dr. Elana Fric, the mother of their three children in their home, while the kids were under the same roof.
On Wednesday, he spoke to his daughters for the first time since his heinous crime from inside a prisoner's box, just a few feet away as they sat in the front row of a packed Toronto courtroom.
"I have devastated your lives," he told them, after 10 victim impact statements were read into the record. "I can only say I'm sorry."
On Thursday, Shamji will find out his sentence, after the Crown and defence gave a joint submission of life in prison with no chance of parole for 14 years.
Last month, Shamji avoided a trial by pleading guilty to second-degree murder for the November 30th attack on Fric, hitting and then choking her to death in their Toronto home.
Their oldest daughter went into their bedroom after hearing a loud noise and scream, but Shamji told her to go back to her own room.
He then put the body in a suitcase and dumped it in the Humber River and it was eventually discovered in Kleinberg on December 1st.
"There is no penalty this Court can give that would ever justify what Mo has done to Elana," Fric's mother Ana said. "He has destroyed all of our lives forever."
"They (children) see mentions of 'Mother's Day" and it only makes their pain worse. Instead of making cards and trinkets for their mother, they lay flowers on her grave."
Fric was had reached the point of serving Shamji divorce papers shortly before the attack, after years of emotional and physical abuse from the prominent neurosurgeon.
The murder shocked many of Fric's friends and colleagues in Ontario's medical community, who praised Fric as a talented and loving doctor.
"I imagined a day in the not so distant future where I would be sitting in New York, talking amongst my colleagues and friends about how my friend became the minister of health in Canada," American colleague Jeremy Block said.
VIDEO: “What are they going to do for Mother’s Day?”— Lucas Meyer (@meyer_lucas) May 8, 2019
Elana Fric’s sister Caroline talks to reporters about speaking, Shamji’s apology, being there for Elana Fric’s children.
When Shamji said in court he should’ve taken his own life, she said “you should’ve” from the gallery. pic.twitter.com/CNkLmJzxti
Block trusted Fric both professionally and personally, not only going to her for advice when he was doing policy for the Bush and Obama administrations, but also for getting out of a bad relationship.
"I'm really indebted to her for it and I thought it was important to let some of that sort of intimacy of how helpful she is to the people around her be known," he said.
Along with the victim impact statements, the defence supplied the court with 14 letters of character for Shamji, from family, colleagues and patients.
The defence said they while they all recognize the horrific nature of his crime, they said they would be there for his rehabilitation.
In coming to the joint submission, lawyers said they balanced both aggravating and mitigating factors.
The aggravating factors included the attack being of a domestic nature, the effect on their three children and his treatment of Fric's body.
On the other side, the defence highlighted Shamji's age (43), guilty plea, education and contributions to the medical field as indicators of high prospects for rehabilitation.
But for Fric's sister Caroline Lekic, it means nothing.
"The wrong life was taken," she said during her impact statement. "I will never understand how someone who was so educated and bright could commit murder."
When Shamji stood in court to say he wish he had taken his own life, Lekic said "you should've" as he spoke.
Speaking to reporters, she was blunt about his apology.
"It's bull****," she said. "He's only sad because he got caught, he's not sad at all."
"Why'd you wait two and half years to say you're guilty? Why did you say that she did this and that? And you lied, you knew you killed her from the start."
As for the future, Lekic said the focus will continue to be on Fric's children, who she said are doing as well as can be expected in a situation like this.
"My nephew, I will let him know what his father did to his mother, because he was too young to understand," she said. "When he comes of age, he's going to know and he's going to know to have respect for women.