Photos entered as evidence on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 in Peer Khairi second-degree murder trial of his wife Randjida Khairi.
Credits: PHOTO SUPPLIED
Her Afghan father stands accused of murdering her mother for daring to allow her kids to adopt Canadian values, but their eldest daughter insists this wasn't an honour killing at all.
Now religious and wearing a hijab, Giti Khairi, 29, took the stand as a Crown witness against her father Peer, and then in stunning fashion, proceeded to negate much of what the prosecutors had told the jury to expect in their opening statement. Instead of following their roadmap of the case, she was suddenly taking them on a far different course.
No, she calmly told the court, her 65-year-old father wasn't the angry, domineering patriarch who lashed out at his wife because he was losing respect and control of his assimilating family.
Rather than her dad being the dictator who made all the decisions when they emigrated from Afghanistan to India and then to Canada in 2003, she said it was actually her slain mother Randjida who called the shots here before she "passed away" four years ago.
True, her parents argued a lot -- and they no longer slept together -- but it wasn't, as the Crown told the jury, because her father raged that her mom was allowing their six children to stray from his rigid, old-world ways.
Instead, she said, it was far more ordinary and mundane: they argued about money because both were on disability and they couldn't manage the household expenses.
As for her impending nuptials being a source of mounting tension in her home, she claims her traditional father was at peace with her decision not to have an arranged marriage. "I talked to him and everything was OK," she assured Crown attorney Amanda Camara.
After losing one parent, it seems she no longer wants to say anything that will cost her another.
Her dad has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the brutal stabbing death of his wife on March 18, 2008. Khairi doesn't deny inflicting the horrific wounds -- Randjida was almost decapitated -- but he insists he didn't have the necessary intent to commit murder.
Unlike the prosecution's tale of an immigrant family torn apart by clashing values, the daughter described six kids -- ranging in age at the time from 18 to 31 -- living peacefully with their parents in a three-bedroom apartment on the West Mall. She was close to her mom. "We were more like friends," she told the court. "I used to share about my workplace, I used to share about my fiance, about my in-laws. I used to share everything with her."
And what about her father? "I used to share with him, too. I think it was the same relationship with both of them."
She reluctantly admitted that her dad didn't initially approve of her plans to marry for love. "He was a little bit concerned. Usually in our culture we get married to our cousins. He wanted me to get married to my cousin because if it's a cousin, he's trusted more."
Her dad, she said, eventually approved of the engagement.
But what about their fights over her weekend stays at her fiance's home? The Crown had told the jury that her living arrangements were "a source of stress and conflict for her father."
"He was a little bit concerned in the beginning," she admitted. "He said, 'I want to make sure he will not use you and leave you on the side of the road'."
She told the jury that, once again, her dad came around.
And no, he never tried to coerce her into being a more observant Muslim -- it was a decision she made herself after her marriage. "I never wore hijab," she told the court. "My parents never forced us to follow the religion. My parents never forced us to wear hijab. After I got married I started praying and God worked in my heart."
The Crown then asked if she discussed these religious issues with her dad.
Until that point, the man's daughter had been so eerily cool. And then without warning, she buried her face in her hands and began to sob.
The trial was abruptly halted and is set to resume Friday morning.
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