A B.C. Supreme Court judge has found an Abbotsford man guilty of second-degree murder, saying he fatally stabbed his sister out of anger and frustration over the problems she was causing their family.
Justice Miriam Maisonville, ruling at the New Westminster courthouse on Wednesday, rejected Harmohinder Khosa’s defence that he was not criminally responsible for the death of his sister, Amarjit Khosa, due to a mental disorder.
Khosa receives an automatic life sentence, but returns to court on Dec. 20 to determine the length of time he should serve before parole eligibility. This ranges from 10 to 25 years.
He remains in the community on court-ordered conditions until that date.
Khosa, 43, admitted to killing his sister in her Abbotsford home on July 21, 2010, but was on trial to determine whether he should be held criminally responsible for the act.
During Khosa’s trial, it was revealed that Amarjit, 34, had been stabbed with a steak knife 13 times in her head and neck.
Khosa’s defence was that he was delusional and was experiencing a “psychotic break from reality” at the time of the killing.
Crown counsel asserted that Khosa understood what he was doing at the time of the murder and knew that it was morally and legally wrong.
The court was told that he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 1996, after hearing voices and hallucinating that snakes were crawling on his legs.
He has been on medication ever since and regularly visits his doctor.
Amarjit was also diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and family members testified that Khosa, who is married with two kids, was a caring and protective big brother who watched out for her.
Amarjit lived in a basement suite with their widowed mother, and Khosa often stepped in when his sister became verbally or physically abusive toward their mom.
Several family members testified that, leading up to the murder, Khosa was quiet and withdrawn and was talking to himself.
He had also been having “religious delusions” in which he believed the Guru Nanak Dev – the founder of the Sikh religion – was talking to him.
On the day of the killing, Khosa received a call to pick up his mom from the basement suite. Amarjit had again become aggressive, and their mom was scared of what she would do.
Khosa brought his mom to his residence for safety. Amarjit then called the house several times, demanding to know when their mom would be returning home.
After one such call, Khosa testified that he took a black-handled steak knife from a drawer in his kitchen and drove to see Amarjit. Once there, he stabbed her multiple times, left the house and returned home.
He then washed the steak knife and returned it to the drawer. He also washed the jacket he was wearing, which had been bloodied in the violent attack.
He did not tell anyone about what had happened. Family members, who were concerned they could not reach Amarjit, went to her residence and discovered her body.
Khosa at first denied any role in the killing, but confessed to officers on July 28, 2010, saying his conscience wouldn’t let him rest. He was charged the following March and was released on bail two months later.
In reaching her decision, the judge said she weighed statements that Khosa made to police and psychiatrists and during his own testimony.
These statements were often conflicting. In one case, he stated that he heard a voice saying, “If you want to save her, then you kill her.”
In another, he said he came up with the idea to kill his sister, and the voice – which he believed to be the Guru Nanak – told him it would be OK.
He also said he wanted to kill Amarjit to ease her misery, but told a police officer that he killed her because he was angry and frustrated over her behaviour.
Khosa also testified that he told Amarjit, “You have bothered us too much” before killing her.
Maisonville said she accepted the evidence of the Crown’s expert witness, a psychiatrist, that Khosa had been stable leading up to the killing and would not have digressed into an “acute episode” – and back again – so quickly.
She said she did not believe that a voice “commanded” Khosa to kill his sister because the voices he had heard in the past had not told him to do things that were outside of his moral beliefs.
“I find that it (Amarjit’s behaviour) became too much for him to bear … and he made the decision to go to Amarjit’s residence to kill her … I find that Mr. Khosa was able to make a rational choice,” Maisonville said.
Speaking outside of the courthouse, Khosa’s lawyer, Brij Mohan, said his client will be considering appealing the judge’s decision.
“Mr. Khosa is a very ill person. It will take some time to digest the information,” Mohan said.