Panghali's behaviour proves he murdered wife: Crown
Crown prosecutors say that the behaviour of a B.C. schoolteacher after the disappearance of his pregnant wife should serve as proof he violently murdered her.
Surrey resident Mukhtiar Panghali is on trial for the murder of his wife, Manjit, who was four months pregnant with her second child when she disappeared on Oct. 18, 2006. Her badly burned corpse was discovered on a Delta beach a few days later, and her husband was charged with the murder after a five-month investigation.
During closing arguments at Panghali's murder trial on Thursday, Crown lawyer Dennis Murray asked the judge to consider the violent nature of Manjit's death.
Prosecutors contend that Manjit's attacker strangled her to death with his bare hands, but not before brutally assaulting her. A forensic pathologist found blood in her vagina and evidence of blunt force injuries to her pelvic area and neck before she died.
Murray also argued that Panghali's behaviour in the days after his wife went missing tend to prove his guilt.
Panghali has said on several occasions that he had not seen the deceased since she left for yoga class on the night she went missing.
But Crown evidence -- and statements made by Panghali -- showed that Manjit had her cell phone with her when she left for class. By the next afternoon, her husband was using the phone, with his own SIM card inserted, and he continued to use it until it was seized by police in January.
Panghali has said that he stayed at home on the night of his wife's disappearance, but the Crown argued that he was caught on surveillance video at a gas station buying a lighter.
Murray told the court that purchase marked the genesis of Panghali's plan to dispose of his wife's body.
Manjit's car was discovered in the Surrey neighbourhood of Whalley, which is the location that Panghali gave police for her yoga class. However, Manjit's yoga class was actually in South Surrey.
When police examined the car, they found that the driver's seat was positioned for a tall person, even though Manjit was a small woman.
"For every cover-up, there is a mistake -- and this is one of them," Murray said.
Evidence from Manjit's diary suggested that Panghali's drinking was causing problems in their marriage. He had been drinking at a pub the night she disappeared.
Panghali's defence team will present its closing arguments on Friday.
With files from CTV British Columbia's Lisa Rossington