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Shafia father, son file inmate notices of appeal

Mohammad Shafia (right), Tooba Yahya (centre) and their son Hamed Shafia (left) are escorted into the Frontenac County courthouse in Kingston, Ont.


A father and son convicted of killing almost half of their family have filed their intentions to appeal.

Mohammad Shafia, 58, has joined his son Hamed, 21, in filing an inmate notice of appeal, which is the first step in the process toward filing a full appeal at a later date.

Shafia, his wife Tooba Yahya, 42, and their son Hamed, were convicted Sunday of four counts each of first-degree murder.

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They were found guilty of killing Shafia's daughters Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13, and his first wife in a polygamous marriage, Rona Amir Mohammad, 52. The bodies were found June 30, 2009, in a car at the bottom of a canal in Kingston, Ont.

The judge described the killings as being motivated by the Shafias' "twisted concept of honour."

Both Shafias' notices of appeal raise the same three grounds on which they're seeking to appeal, including evidence from an expert on so-called honour killings.

"The trial judge erred in admitting the evidence of Dr. (Shahrzad) Mojab as an expert with respect to honour killings," Shafia writes on his notice.

Shafia is not fluent in English and it's not clear if the handwriting on the notice of appeal is his, or if he had help in filling out the forms. The documents filed by both father and son indicate they have not yet been moved from Quinte Detention Centre in Napanee, Ont., to a federal prison following their convictions.

Shafia and his son indicate they also believe trial Judge Robert Maranger erred in admitting hearsay evidence "of the four deceased women."

The trial heard from numerous police, child protection and school officials who testified the girls told them about family tensions and their fears. Relatives of Rona testified she had told them she overheard Shafia talking about plans to kill Zainab and "the other one," and she feared that was her.

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Shafia and Hamed also raise an issue with Maranger's charge to the jury. They believe he erred in characterizing the original story all three told police as post-offence conduct.

Shafia, Yahya and Hamed told police that Zainab took the car keys and must have taken the other three for a joy ride in which they accidentally plunged into the canal. The Crown alleged it was a story the three had concocted to deflect suspicion from them.

Yahya has not yet filed an inmate notice of appeal, but she had 30 days from the date of conviction to do so. On the day of the verdicts Hamed's lawyer, Patrick McCann, indicated he believed all three would appeal.

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