Left to right, interpreter, Peer Khairi, accused, Justice Robert Clark, witness Det. Const. Komarnisky, holding a knife from the crime scene, and Crown attorney Amanda Camara at 361 University Ave. courthouse on Oct.10, 2012.
Credits: Sketch by Pam Davies
TORONTO – Peer Khairi was miserable in Canada, his murder trial heard Wednesday. The Afghan immigrant complained that he had no job, he couldn't speak the language, his kids were becoming Westernized and his wife was no longer subservient.
"He told me his wife had changed," testified Neelab Subhani, a settlement counsellor at the Afghan Women's Organization who met with Khairi in 2007. "He told me, 'Here there is more rights for women.' So his wife was saying he has to give her equal rights."
A year after he made those complaints, Khairi savagely butchered his errant spouse.
Randjida Khairi, 53, was killed in a bloodbath of rage on March 18, 2008, inside the family's apartment. After her husband called 911, police found her petite lifeless body on a mattress drenched through with her blood, her throat slit so deeply that she was almost decapitated, her chest and back riddled with five plunging knife wounds.
Khairi stands charged of second-degree murder. Her husband of 30 years admits inflicting the horrific injuries on his second wife, but has pleaded not-guilty, maintaining he didn't have the necessary legal intent for murder.
At issue is his state of mind during the attack.
It appears defence lawyer Christopher Hicks may argue Khairi was provoked into killing the 86-pound Randjida: He asked Subhani about phrases in Dari that were so "repulsive and profoundly insulting" for an Afghan that they "could not be ignored and you can't walk away after saying them."
Crown prosecutors Robert Kenny and Amanda Camara allege Khairi, 65, murdered his wife because she had become too permissive — too Canadian, it seems — by allowing their six children to dress and date as they liked instead of maintaining his strict rules of their birthplace.
After leaving Afghanistan, the Khairis lived in India before moving to Canada in 2003. Khairi came to the Afghan Women's Organization office in 2007 for help in filling out applications for Canadian citizenship. During their two-hour meeting, Subhani said he confided that unlike the rest of his family, he was finding it difficult to adjust to the new ways of this country.
"It was hard for him coming to Canada," she recalled. "He said the kids are young, more open-minded, they would not listen to him.
"He was sad a little bit," Subhani said. "I could see deep down he's not happy."
Shortly before she was slain, Randjida was making confessions of her own.
Anisa Sharifi is another settlement counsellor from the Afghan Women's Organization. She first met the family in 2006 to help them with their welfare applications and didn't hear from them again until Randjida called her several months before she was killed.
"She told me she doesn't want to be living with her husband anymore and asked me how to go through the process of separation," Sharifi testified.
When asked why she wanted to leave, she said Randjida accused Khairi of being verbally abusive. "He is not nice to her and he is insulting her. She mentioned he is using bad words," Sharifi said she was told.
The counsellor offered to help and asked for Randjida's phone number so she could check back on her.
"She didn't give me any number. She said should would call me back if she needed me."
She never did.
Randjida grew so unhappy in her marriage that she then reached out to a virtual stranger, court heard. Nida Ali lived in the same west-end Toronto apartment building and on a few occasions they had exchanged brief pleasantries as they waited for the elevator.
But on March 6, 2008, Ali said they were both in the basement laundry room when her anxious and upset neighbour suddenly opened up about her troubles.
"She said, 'Nothing is going well, I'm having problems,'" Ali testified. "She said, 'We are having fights all the time and there's no peace in my home.'"
Randjida told her she wanted a separation. "She said, 'I had enough."
But she would never get the chance to leave. Twelve days later, her husband slit her throat and left her to drown in her blood.