KINGSTON, Ont. - A young man accused, along with his parents, of killing his three sisters told a police interrogator his mother had nothing to do with the deaths and that she had been talking about suicide, court heard Tuesday.
The jury in the murder trial watched a video of the interrogation of Hamed Shafia, 20, after he was arrested more than two years ago in the deaths of his sisters and one of his father's two wives in a polygamous marriage.
Three teenage Shafia sisters, Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13, along with Rona Amir Mohammad, 50, were found dead inside a car submerged in the Rideau Canal in June 2009. The Montreal family had stopped in Kingston, Ont., on their way home from a trip to Niagara Falls, Ont.
The police officers who took turns interrogating Hamed press him on inconsistencies in his story. He mostly sticks to the story he and his parents originally told police — that they had no idea what happened and the car ending up in the canal must have been a terrible accident.
But at one point, Det.-Const. Steve Koopman tells Hamed they can place him at the scene, and asks, "Did you mean to get involved with this?"
"No," Hamed replies, hanging his head.
Hamed asks about his mother and says she has not been doing well since the deaths and has even talked about suicide.
"My mom, she doesn't have anything to do with it," Hamed says. "I told you before. she's like nothing to do with it because she was not even herself that night. She was really tired, she had no idea where we are and everything."
She took some pills and fell asleep, he adds.
Hamed, his mother Tooba Mohammad Yahya, 41, and his father Mohammad Shafia, 58, have each pleaded not guilty to four counts of first-degree murder.
For the rest of the interview Hamed asserts his innocence and presses the police officers to disclose what evidence they have against him so he can clear up any "misunderstandings." But the officers point out that he cannot explain why pieces of a headlight of the family's Lexus SUV, which Hamed said he was driving that night, ended up at the scene.
The Crown alleges the accused used the Lexus to push the other car into the water with the four victims inside.
The jury has previously watched the interrogations of Yahya and Shafia. During Yahya's six-hour interrogation, she admits that the three of them were at the scene that night, but that she fainted and didn't know what happened. She recanted that statement the next day, court heard.
Court also heard Tuesday the beginning of a recorded conversation in jail between Hamed and a man his father paid $4,500 to do a separate investigation. The first approximately hour-and-a-half of the audio is mostly the man — who cannot be named — ranting about how he thinks the family, or at least Shafia and Yahya, are innocent.
During its opening statement at the beginning of the trial the Crown said Hamed gave the man an alternate version of events for that night that placed him at the scene.