Defence calls no witnesses in Panghali murder trial
The evidence has been heard and now closing arguments are set to begin in the trial of a B.C. teacher accused of murdering his pregnant wife.
Manjit Panghali was four months pregnant with her second child when she disappeared in October 2006. Her badly burned corpse was discovered on a Delta beach a few days later, and her husband Mukhtiar Panghali was charged with the murder after a five-month investigation.
At Panghali's trial on Wednesday, defence lawyer Michael Tammen told the judge he would not be calling any witnesses and that Panghali would not be taking the stand in his own defence.
Tammen told reporters that the reasons behind those decisions were between him and his client, but that Crown prosecutors had not presented convincing evidence to convict Panghali.
"It's nothing more than circumstantial evidence. There's no direct evidence as to who killed Manjit -- the Crown has presented whatever evidence they could cobble together of a circumstantial nature," Tammen said outside the court.
No forensic evidence was presented from the Panghali's home, where prosecutors say Manjit was choked to death, and no evidence about where she was for the five days between her disappearance and the discovery of her body.
The Crown's case included testimony from Manjit's sister, who said Panghali seemed unconcerned about his wife's disappearance. Fellow high school teachers told the court that they went out for drinks with him and he seemed calm.
Prosecutors suggested that Panghali lied to police about where he was the night his wife went missing. Phone company employees testified that Manjit's cell phone, containing her husband's SIM card, was used after she disappeared.
Pathologist Dr. Charles Lee testified that Manjit's attacker strangled her with his bare hands -- but not before brutally assaulting her.
Lee said that Manjit sustained a blunt force injury to her lower pelvic area, leading to hemorrhaging, which may have been caused by a punch or a kick.
The defence tried unsuccessfully to have that evidence thrown out.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Lisa Rossington