I have to admit that there is nothing worse than not knowing which knife to kill your wife with!

Megan O’Toole
There is one sentence that has tormented interpreter Najib Shams these past four years, seared into his memory after a chance encounter with a killer.
“I took the small knife and then the big knife.”
Peer Khairi uttered these words during a Toronto police interview in the early-morning hours of March 19, 2008, one day after he plunged a blade into his wife’s chest and slit her throat to the bone.
Mr. Shams, employed by a local interpreters’ service, was tasked with translating Mr. Khairi’s Dari words into English. Parts of the interview have faded from memory, he said Friday, but never the comment about the two knives.
“[This is] the sentence that always haunts me and always bothers me,” Mr. Shams testified at Mr. Khairi’s second-degree murder trial in Ontario Superior Court.
This is not a trial to determine whether Mr. Khairi killed 53-year-old Randjida Khairi; he did. In coming to a verdict, jurors will focus on his state of mind at the time.
Prosecutors allege the 65-year-old was motivated by fury at his family’s ease in embracing Western culture. Originally from Afghanistan, the Khairis lived in India for about a decade before immigrating to Canada in 2003. It was then, the court heard, that his wife began to talk about equality and his children drifted from traditional Muslim dress.
Earlier this week, the jury viewed a video of the beginning of Mr. Khairi’s police interview, in which he said he contemplated suicide after stabbing his wife, and noted: “I am not normal. My brain is not working.”
The video abruptly stopped about an hour and 20 minutes into the three-hour interrogation — an apparent electronic glitch that went unnoticed by police until it was too late. As a result, there is no electronic record of more than half of the interview, leaving Mr. Shams and Det.-Sgt. Michael Barsky to rely on their own remembrances in court.
In certain spots, their testimony was chillingly aligned.
“I remember him talking about the use of two knives… a small knife first, then a large knife,” Det.-Sgt. Barsky testified.
[This is] the sentence that always haunts me and always bothers me
Mr. Khairi also revealed there were “stresses in the family” around the time of the slaying, Det.-Sgt. Barsky said, including that “he wasn’t happy about the attire that some of his children were dressing in.”
Mr. Shams — who described the accused as “very quiet and tired” during the interrogation — also recalled critical remarks about the behaviour of Mr. Khairi’s wife and children. Mr. Khairi had recently been injured in a car accident on Highway 401 and did not feel his family was sufficiently doting, the court heard.
“His son and his wife did not prepare food for him [and] basically were not helping him at all,” Mr. Shams testified, adding Mr. Khairi believed “all the family members had problems with him” and were attempting to “control him.” “[He said] the wife always takes sides with the kids against him,” Mr. Shams testified.
Mr. Khairi, who acknowledged in the recorded portion of his police interview that he knew nothing about Canadian law, went on to criticize the country’s legal system for favouring women over men, the court heard.
“It’s a good system,” Mr. Khairi said, according to testimony from Mr. Shams, “but they usually go for the wives against the husbands.”
As he listened to hours of testimony Friday, a different Dari interpreter whispering translations into his ear, Mr. Khairi appeared impassive. At various points he crossed his legs, clasped his hands, rubbed his eyes or smoothed his silver hair, but his face — deeply lined and frowning — did not change. Not even when Mr. Shams spoke of Mr. Khairi’s final 911 call, placed on March 18, 2008.
“He said he called 911 to tell them that his wife is stabbed [and] if the ambulance had come earlier she would have been saved,” Mr. Shams testified.
Mr. Khairi leaned forward slightly, took a sip of water from a clear plastic cup, and placed it back on the edge of the wooden prisoner’s box.
The trial resumes Monday.
National Post
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