A Toronto neurosurgeon was fighting with his wife who wanted a divorce when he choked her to death in their home while their three children were sleeping, a court heard Monday as the man pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
Mohammed Shamji’s plea came days before he was to stand trial for first-degree murder in the death of Elana Fric-Shamji — his wife of 12 years.
The couple’s marriage had been “volatile and dysfunctional” for months, a Crown lawyer told the court while reading an agreed statement of facts, and Shamji had been resisting his wife’s attempts at starting divorce proceedings.
Fric-Shamji, who was family physician at Scarborough and Rouge Hospital, began an affair with a fellow doctor, and her husband found out about it, court heard. Shamji then continued to try and change his wife’s mind about getting a divorce, the Crown said.
On the night of her death, the pair got into a heated argument in their bedroom that woke one of their children, who heard banging, screams and then silence, court heard.
“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,” Crown lawyer Henry Poon told the court.
“After the killing, Mohammed packed his wife’s body in a suitcase and drove about 35 kilometres north of the city and dumped the suitcase in the Humber River.”
Shamji carried on with his daily routine after the slaying, including performing surgeries the next day, and lied about his missing wife’s whereabouts, the Crown said. He also planted evidence aimed at pointing the finger at his wife’s lover, court heard.
Fric-Shamji was reported missing by her mother. Her body was found in a suitcase by the side of a road north of Toronto a day after she was last seen on Nov. 30, 2016.
Shamji, who worked at Toronto Western Hospital and was a faculty member at the University of Toronto, was arrested on Dec. 2, 2016.
Police have said an investigation revealed Fric-Shamji died of strangulation and blunt force trauma.
Fric-Shamji’s death sparked an outpouring of grief from those who knew her. She was described as a talented professional who helped improve the health-care system.
Liam Casey, The Canadian Press