Warning: This article contains graphic content and descriptions of violence
A B.C. man who, after killing his wife, once tried to claim that burning her body and vehicle was part of a “respectful cremation” has been granted day parole.
The Parole Board of Canada issued its decision on Mukhtiar Panghali last week, after assessing the details of his crime and the progress he has made since being sentenced to life more than a year ago. ten years.
Panghali was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for 15 years. He served around 11 years behind bars and will now stay in a community residential facility or community correctional center overnight.
He is also subject to a number of conditions, including that he has no contact with the victim’s family, including his own daughter, unless he has written permission from his parole officer. conditional.
Panghali was convicted of second-degree murder and indignity over a corpse in the death of his wife in 2006.
Manjit Panghali was 31 years old and was also a teacher.
During Panghali’s trial in 2011, the court heard that the victim was four months pregnant with the couple’s second child at the time. His body and vehicle were found burned on a beach in Delta after Panghali reported him missing.
He had told police that his wife went to prenatal yoga and never came home. Parole board documents say Panghali waited 26 hours to report her missing and, after her body was found and over the months that followed, tried to blame others.
Among the suspects he said might be responsible was Manjit’s own brother.
Panghali became a suspect and the court heard during his trial that the victim’s diary entries suggested she was trying to make the marriage work.
She had written in her diary that she and her husband struggled with many issues, including “sex, drugs, alcohol, co-workers and family”.
The court heard that Manjit’s death was violent. His cause of death was strangulation, but wounds on his body included blunt force injuries to the pelvic region and neck.
Second-degree murder automatically carries a life sentence in British Columbia, but judges then determine parole eligibility.
Panghali’s trial judge said she opted for 15 years because of the aggravating factors in the woman’s death, including violence and the fact that she was pregnant.
The evidence was circumstantial but powerful, the judge said.
After the trial, Panghali attempted to appeal his conviction. He said Manjit’s death was accidental and the burning of his body was meant to be a “respectful cremation”.
The Court of Appeal did not buy it.
Following his conviction and appeal, Panghali was stripped of his teaching license. He was banned from the profession for 25 years.
He was ordered years later to pay more than $600,000 in damages to his wife’s family.
“INTELLIGENT ENOUGH NOT TO GET CATCHED”
During hearings and meetings following Panghali’s sentencing, including those held years into his sentence, it emerged that Panghali had planned to kill his wife for years, the commission said. conditional releases.
It was because he thought she didn’t like him, according to the advice.
They argued about the family before her death, and at one point she said her parents and brothers were “dead to her,” the council said. It was then, Panghali admitted, that he decided to kill her.
“You admitted to instigating a fight with the victim to get physical in order to end her life, using a chokehold on her long after she was unconscious. You also admitted to burning the victim’s body in order to evade arrest, believing you were smart enough not to get caught,” the council wrote in a message to Panghali.
PAROLE BOARD REASONING
Now 50, Panghali has spent years behind bars, attending programs and counseling sessions designed in part to make him understand what happened and how to prevent it in the future.
“You noted that there is a lot of work to be done to undo the harm you have caused,” the council said.
“Although your index offense was serious and violent in nature, resulting in the death of the victim and causing significant psychological damage and trauma to the victim’s family, you have taken a number of steps over the years to remedy to your risk factors.
Prior to the parole board’s decision, Panghali said he was “raised around violence in relationships and (was) unable to handle the dynamics” on his own.
According to the council, he has accepted the impact that domestic violence in his upbringing has had on his approach to relationships.
He admitted he was “manipulative and mean” to his wife and expressed remorse for his “regressive and rather archaic attitudes and beliefs about marriage and intimate relationships”.
He has completed about 40 to 50 programs, including those focused on violence-free communication.
When he was first locked up he got into fights with other inmates, but he has had no problems in the past five years at three facilities, the council said.
His psychological assessment included that he was rated “low to moderate” on risk of violent offense while on day parole, and recommended a gradual return to normal life, beginning with unescorted temporary absences. (UTA), then moving on to semi-freedom.
He had eight or more UTAs without issue, the board said.
Yet his psychological assessment suggested he should still be considered “high risk” for violence when in a domestic setting.
Despite the risk of intimate partner violence, the board decided to grant six months of day parole.
Panghali, who had no criminal history before his wife’s murder, has the support of his family and a pastor, as well as some support groups.
He has benefited from prison programs and would do well to continue that work, the board said, but he has exhausted all such programs he can attend while incarcerated and may instead turn to similar options in the community. .
When it comes to finding a job, Panghali can no longer teach, but the council said he was encouraged by his work in prison, including in construction and as a tutor.
While on day parole, Panghali will need to continue his treatment plan, which includes work on “managing emotions”, healthy relationships and preventing domestic violence.
He is not allowed to use alcohol or drugs and must report any relationship to his parole supervisor.
He is already under a lifetime weapons ban, imposed at his sentencing, and had to submit his DNA to law enforcement.
Panghali also cannot have contact with his wife’s family, including his daughter, unless he has written permission from his supervisor.
The council said he had been in contact with his daughter until 2019, when she requested space. He hopes to have a relationship with her in the future, the board was told, but has respected her wishes.
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