A Toronto neurosurgeon was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday for strangling his wife after she filed for divorce.
Mohammed Shamji, 43, pleaded guilty last month to second-degree murder in the 2016 death of 40-year-old Elana Fric. According to court testimony, Fric had served her husband with divorce papers two days before he killed her. He broke her neck and ribs before choking her to death as their three children slept nearby.
According to the CBC, Fric was a respected family doctor who also worked as an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto. She also served as a member of the health policy committee at the Ontario Medical Association.
Fric’s body was found on Dec. 1, 2016, in a suitcase near an underpass approximately 35 kilometers away. The following day, Shamji was arrested at a nearby coffee shop and charged with her murder.
During Thursday’s sentencing hearing, the judge heard testimony that the couple’s marriage had been volatile, and that Shamji was both physically and verbally abusive. Fric’s family told the court that they will forever mourn the loss of the devoted mom and talented doctor.
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Elana Shamji’s father, Joe Fric, gave a victim impact statement to the court. “I am an old man, almost 74 years of age, so my loss will end before too long,” he said, according to Fox News, “but the loss of her children will go on for decades and decades.”
As the hearing came to a close, Shamji apologized to the court and to Fric’s family.
“Somehow I turned my back on my oath and calling and took a life, Elana’s life,” he said, according to the Toronto Sun. “It makes no sense to me. I don’t know how I could cause such pain and anguish. I should have killed myself and not Elana. That would have been the only justice.”
After hearing the testimony, Ontario Superior Court Justice John McMahon said that he has seen far too many cases of domestic violence throughout his career. “She was robbed of a wonderful life yet to be lived,” he said as he ruled. “Three young children have lost their mother forever.”
Noting that Shamji’s guilty plea has spared his daughter from having to testify against him, McMahon sentenced him to life in prison. He will be eligible to apply for parole after serving 14 years. Because he has been incarcerated since the murder, he will only have to serve an additional 11 1/2 years before applying for parole.
Fric’s family vows that they will fight his release at every parole hearing. “Justice wasn’t done today,” Fric’s mother, Ana, told reporters outside the courtroom.
When asked if she had advice for other women who find themselves in the same situation as her daughter, Ana Fric said, “I would say leave them. Don’t give them a second chance.”
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