A jury in Canada that had been deliberating since last week found Amalan Thandapanithesigar, who came to Canada as Sri Lankan refugee, guilty of second-degree murder for having stabbed his neighbour in Côte-des-Neiges, Montreal in Canada, Montreal Gazette reported.
Thandapanithesigar was originally charged with first-degree murder, but the jury found him guilty of the lesser charge late Monday afternoon. It meant the jury was probably not convinced he planned the murder even though they heard evidence that, a week before the murder was carried out, the victim had made unwelcome advances on Thandapanithesigar’s wife.
During his trial, Thandapanithesigar admitted he stabbed Jeyarasan Manikarajah, was also from Sri Lanka on June 23, 2014. But, he testified, he stabbed the victim in a fit of anger after the victim called him several names during an argument, including a vulgar term for vagina in their shared Sri Lankan language.
The presiding judge in the trial, Jean-François Buffoni, asked the seven men and five women if they could reach a unanimous decision on a sentence recommendation. While Thandapanithesigar automatically received a life sentence with the murder conviction his parole eligibility can be set at anywhere between 10 and 25 years. The jury foreman told Buffoni that the majority of the jurors recommended the parole eligibility be set at the 10-year minimum but that a few disagreed. One juror felt Thandapanithesigar’s eligibility should be set at the maximum, 25 years.
At that point, defence lawyer Elise Pinsonneault asked that the jury be asked individually if they all agreed with the second-degree verdict.
“At least two of the jurors won’t stop crying,” Pinsonneault said. “They keep looking me in the face, with a look of distress.”
When each juror was asked individually they all said they agree with the verdict. However, juror number 12, the same man who recommended Thandapanithesigar serve the maximum 25 years before he is eligible for full parole, hesitated a long time before he uttered “agree.” It was a sign that the juror was a holdout and was initially convinced Thandapanithesigar was guilty of first-degree murder. Jury deliberations are secret in Canada so it is impossible to know how the decision was reached.
Buffoni will hear arguments on Thandapanithesigar’s parole eligibility on May 29.