Thursday, April 11, 2019

Domestic Violence on Steroids

"Mohammed struck Elana multiple times, causing her significant blunt force injuries all over her body, including a broken neck and broken ribs. He then choked her to death."
"In the days after he killed her, Mohammed carried on with his daily routines, including performing surgeries the next day. He lied to just about everyone he came into contact with as to his missing wife's whereabouts."
"[Their then-11-year-old daughter was] awakened from her sleep by the sounds of her parents arguing in the next room. She heard banging, her mom scream, then silence."
"[She] went to her parents' room to investigate. She was ordered back to bed by her father."
Crown attorney Henry Poon, Ontario Superior Court, Toronto
Dr. Mohammed Shamji and Dr. Elana Fric-Shamji are shown in this image from Fric-Shamji's facebook page. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Facebook

Mohammed Shamji, a well-known, highly respected neurosurgeon, packed his wife's lifeless body into some kind of suitcase. He loaded it into a vehicle and drove a relatively short distance of 35 km. to the Humber River, and dumped the suitcase into the river. It was discovered a day later by the side of a road north of Toronto. Elana Fric-Shamji was a medical doctor like her husband. What a perfect pair. Both highly-regarded professionals, parents of three children. But an impaired relationship.

Elana's mother reported her daughter missing a day after her murder, on November 30, 2016.

As a neurosurgeon with Toronto Western Hospital, a faculty member of the University of Toronto, who might suspect that this man, now 43, would be a vicious murderer? It took no less than a full day before he was arrested by police on suspicion of murder, on December 2, 2016. His attempts to frame her murder on the man he knew had been his wife's lover failed. Their three children, two pre-adolescent girls, and an infant son went into the care of maternal family members.

Elana Fric-Shamji had finally decided to go through with a divorce she had thought about for years but never acted upon. Her husband had been been unfaithful in their marriage, an overbearing, demanding man who resisted all attempts by his wife to separate from him. Promising time and again that he would reform and things would improve between them. It never did; their children will live out their lives recalling the emotional, verbal and physical abuse their mother suffered.

The criminal trial is set to begin in Toronto, jury selection is about to commence. Ontario Superior Court Justice John McMahon will hear the case. Mohammed Shamji's defence lawyers and public prosecutors agreed that the neurosurgeon would be re-arraigned on a charge of second-degree murder, a charge he pleaded guilty to in a courtroom in Toronto. Had the man not agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder his oldest daughter was slated to testify at trial as a key prosecution witness.

The older girl is 14, her sister 11, and their little brother now five years of age. The 14-year-old daughter and her sister appeared in court at the preliminary hearing in the company of their grandparents and a group of their mother's other relatives and friends, all wearing purple ribbons signifying awareness of domestic violence. This was the first time the young girls had seen their father since December 2 of 2016, the date of his arrest.

The couple originally lived in Ottawa and there Mohammed Shamji had faced charges of assaulting and threatening his wife. A year after they were married in 2004 he assaulted her. Charges were withdrawn a few months afterward, replaced with a peace bond, sparing the man a criminal record. His opportunity to attend Duke University which had accepted him into a biomedical engineering program would have been cancelled had he been convicted of assault.

According to Prosecutor Poon the marriage was "marred by reports of verbal, emotional and at times physical abuse". As though that wasn't sufficient grounds, the neurosurgeon's dalliances with other women spurred his wife to respond to the deterioration of their marriage by initiating divorce proceedings. When Shamji pleaded for "more time for him to better himself in the marriage she agreed and abandoned the divorce proceedings".
Dr. Mohammed Shamji pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of his physician wife, Dr. Elana Fric, in 2016. The guilty plea carries an automatic life sentence with no parole eligibility for 10 years. (Pam Davies/CBC)

That was the spring of 2016. By the time summer came around "Elana decided to give up on the marriage for good", which was around the time she began an extramarital affair with another doctor. It wasn't until October that a formal divorce lawyer was retained. "He asks again for more time for the sake of the children and the upcoming holiday season. Again she relented. At around this time, Mohammed confirmed his wife's affair", Poon informed the court.

Mohammed Shamji "was formally served with divorce papers" two days before he killed his wife. After his arrest, former patients spoke to the press in praise of the gentle man they knew.

Judge McMahon spoke to Mohammed Shamji, asking: "Is that what happened?" 

"Yes", replied the renowned neurosurgeon.

Dr. Elana Fric was a well-respected family physician at Scarborough and Rouge Hospital and a dedicated mother of three young children. (Twitter)

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