Left to right: interpreter, the accused, Peer Khairi, Justice Robert Clark, witness Det. Const. Komarnisky, holding a knife from the crime scene, and Crown attorney Amanda Camara on October 10, 2012.
Credits: Courtroom sketch by Pam Davies
TORONTO -- The photos they're about to see are so bloody, so starkly gruesome, that the judge warns the jury not to be swayed by emotion. They are to regard the horrific pictures with the "same dispassion" as the rest of the evidence they will see.
It is a tall order.
Like a lamb, Randjida Khairi had been slaughtered, the angry knife carving so deeply across her throat that she was almost decapitated. Five knife wounds plunged through her back, chest and abdomen -- one slicing right through her liver. And this butchery was the admitted handiwork of her Afghan husband of 30 years, Peer Khairi, the man the Crown says she was about to leave.
Khairi, who has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, was shown each bloody photo in turn. The small, grey-haired 65-year-old leaned forward in the prisoner's box and examined every macabre tableau, with no tear, no grimace, no emotion at all flitting across his wizened brow.
According to the Crown's theory, Khairi murdered the mother of his six children because she had become too permissive, too Canadian it seems, by allowing them to dress and socialize as they liked instead of maintaining his strict rules of their Afghan birthplace.
And like her children, Randjida yearned to be free. In the Crown's opening, the jury was told that the 53-year-old may have had little English, but she had bravely reached out to her daughter, a community Afghan group and even a stranger about ways to separate from her husband. She had even managed to flee a few months before only to be found by Khairi and brought back home. But Randjida hadn't given up and was in the midst of separating her finances and moving out when she was brutally killed on March 18, 2008.
One knife had not been enough to do the grizzly deed. Toronto Police Det.-Const. Sandra Komarnisky opened a sealed evidence box and showed the jury two blood-covered knives seized from atop a glass table in the Khairis' living room: one resembled a long butcher's knife just over a foot long, the other, a smaller, folded knife with a sharper end.
The forensics officer also identified the bloodied clothes Randjida had been wearing when she was massacred that early afternoon: Her green patterned silk top and pants were sealed in plastic, but the red stains were clearly discernible even now, more than four years later.
Harder to see were the stab marks through the fabric, ones that punctured her top near her left breast and rib cage and in the centre of her back.
There was no evidence of a struggle, Komarnisky testified. There was no "red staining" anywhere else in the apartment except for the bloodbath in that corner of the living room where a cot had been set up as a makeshift bedroom. "The room was relatively neat, the furnishing appeared to be in place," she said. "Nothing had been tumbled over."
The jury has already been told that it would not have been a quick death. Instead, after her throat had been sliced through to her spine, Randjida would have choked on her own blood for five to 10 long minutes before finally dying of her injuries. And according to his own 911 call, Khairi then waited an hour before he dialled for help.
Sgt. Stanislaw Baj was one of the first officers to enter the apartment after Khairi had been handcuffed and taken into custody. He saw a lifeless woman lying on a bed soaked in crimson blood. "There was a large gaping wound along the entire length of her neck," he told jurors. "She appeared to be halfway decapitated. There was no chance of her being alive."
According to the prosecution, her husband would later tell police that he had been disrespected by his family and his wife had dared to take his children's side against him.
So was this an honour killing? A clash of cultures? The ultimate expression of domestic violence? Call it what you will, the horrific end was still the same.
As Khairi told the 911 operator in Hindi, his wife "is finished."