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Man who killed his family in Markham, Ont., apologizes during sentencing hearing

A 24-year-old Ontario man who killed his entire family apologized Monday to anyone he had "impacted negatively" with his actions, as lawyers asked a judge to hand him a life sentence with no parole for 40 years.

A 24-year-old Ontario man who killed his entire family apologized Monday to anyone he had "impacted negatively" with his actions, as lawyers asked a judge to hand him a life sentence with no parole for 40 years. 

Menhaz Zaman pleaded guilty last month to three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder for killing his parents, grandmother and sister at their home in Markham, Ont., on July 27, 2019.

Appearing via video conference at a sentencing hearing that was held virtually, Zaman addressed the court in a flat tone. 

"I would like to just apologize to anyone I have impacted negatively with my actions, and especially to the people who knew my family and friends and loved ones who I know could never have seen something like this happening," said Zaman, who was wearing an orange jumpsuit as he appeared from the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ont. 

"I’m sorry."

The Crown and defence both sought a 40-year period of parole ineligibility for Zaman for the murders. 

Justice Michelle Fuerst will give her decision on Nov. 2.

Police found the bodies of 70-year-old Firoza Begum, 59-year-old Moniruz Zaman, 50-year-old Momtaz Begum, and 21-year-old Malesa Zaman in their home. 

They also found and arrested Menhaz Zaman at the family home, according to an agreed statement of facts filed with court. 

Court heard just a solitary victim impact statement, from Malesa Zaman's best friend, Afnan Alibaccas, which was read out by the Crown attorney.

"I’ve been broken ever since she was taken away," Alibaccas wrote.

"It’s hard to cope with a murder — it’s even harder when the person taken away from you is the person closest to you."

She said she has been best friends with Malesa Zaman since they first met in Grade 3. 

"I never thought I’d have to write a victim impact statement for my best friend’s murder," Alibaccas wrote.

"I thought the only time I’d write a speech for her was on her wedding day at some point in the future, but I guess that’s off the table."

Alibaccas said her life changed the day she woke up to news of her friend's death. 

She said she has struggled with anxiety, sleepless nights and the worry she'll somehow run into the killer on the street. 

She said she has isolated herself and has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder that she is taking medication for. Alibaccas said she has yet to see a therapist because she does not have insurance to cover the cost.

According to an agreed statement of facts read out in court last month, Menhaz Zaman first thought of killing his family three years earlier.

He told a friend shortly after the murders that his family believed he was studying engineering at York University. He was actually enrolled in an electronics engineering program at Seneca College, but dropped out in 2015 due to failing grades. 

He spent his days in a nearby mall and at a gym in an effort to keep up the ruse, according to the statement of facts.

"I did this bc i dont want my parents to feel the shame of having a son like me," he said in a message to a friend after the murders. 

His family believed he was set to graduate on July 28, 2019.

Around 3 p.m. the day before, Zaman killed his mother first. About an hour later he killed his grandmother.

He waited until about 11 p.m. for his sister to come home from work. He killed her then.

About an hour later, he killed his father when he got home from his job as a taxi driver.

In between, he had napped and played video games, the statement of facts said.

"Autopsies revealed he had struck each of them on the head, with most likely a crow bar, and when they fell to the floor, he cut their throats," the statement of facts said.

All counts come with an automatic life sentence in prison, but a judge must decide on the time of parole ineligibility.

The Crown and defence, in a joint position, say they want the period of parole ineligibility to run 25 years concurrently for the first-degree murder charges, plus 15 years of parole ineligibility for the second-degree murder count, which was for his killing his mother, the first victim in the spree.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 26, 2020.

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press

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