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Trial begins for man accused of killing estranged wife at southeast home
CTV Calgary Staff
Published Monday, June 19, 2017 5:58AM MDT
Last Updated Monday, June 19, 2017 9:26PM MDT
Court proceedings against a man accused of stabbing his estranged wife and her friend to death in 2014 began on Monday.
Hari Pal, 55, is charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Sanjula Devi and Fahmida Velji-Visram.
The women were stabbed to death at a home in the 6400 block of Penbrooke Dr. SE on Sunday, May 4, 2014.
Pal was found fit to stand trial in the deaths but told the judge that he didn't know what his plea was, prompting the judge to enter 'not guilty' pleas on his behalf.
During the Crown's opening statement, court head that Pal and his wife had split up but she went back to the home in Penbrooke they shared to gather some of her belongings.
Devi's friend Velji-Visram went with her to help out.
The Crown says Pal stabbed Velji-Visram first and then Devi. A third woman, who lived upstairs, was also attacked.
Pal's daughter was home at the time and ran from the residence when the attacks occurred.
Pal fled the scene but was found a short time later with injuries he sustained after he ingested some kind of liquid.
The delay has been hard on the families and Fahmida Velji-Visram’s brother says he’s frustrated by the delays.
"I'm pissed off. The justice system is taking a lot longer than I would have thought," said Farouk Velji.
Farouk says not having justice for his sister has made the six month anniversary of her death even worse.
Legal aid was approved on Tuesday and a lawyer was assigned to represent Pal.
“Excellent so at least something is going on. It took six months but at least it’s done and it’s a good day today to hear that information. On a day we remember her we know she is doing that from up there,” said Velji.
"This is difficult for both sides, Mr. Pal is in custody, the victim's family or the complainant's families are awaiting some form of resolution," said Ouellette.
Last year, doctors determined that Pal was fit to stand trial despite suffering from a mild neurocognitive disorder that affects his memory.
“The fitness is more fundamentally. If he’s hearing voices and so on, if you understand what you’re charged with, if you’re able to participate in the process, then effectively you can undergo a trial,” said Ouellette.
On Monday afternoon, court heard from the couple's young daughter. In a police interview that was conducted just hours after the incident, she said that she saw the whole thing happen.
She told the court that she saw her dad stab Velji-Visram first and that she and her mother locked themselves in a bedroom to call 911 but he forced his way in.
She said they were screaming and that's when the landlord's daughter came down stairs and was also attacked. She said that her mother was stabbed next.
The girl's identity is being protected by a court order.
The case continues on Tuesday and court is expected to hear from the survivor of the alleged attack.