Three men charged in teen slaying appear in court
By Kristy Nease and Meghan Hurley, with files from Andrew Seymour, Ottawa Citizen December 9, 2010
From left, Abdulhamid Wehbe, Khaled Wehbe, and Zakaria Dourhnou appear in Ottawa court in connection with the shooting death of 16-year-old Yazden Ghiasvand Ghiasi on Booth Street Monday.
Photograph by: Greg Banning, The Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA — An aspiring police officer and two other young men have been charged in the Monday morning slaying of 16-year-old Yazdan Ghiasvand Ghiasi, who was dumped out of a car and left for dead on a street near Chinatown.
The young men are 20-year-old Abdulhamid Wehbe, 19-year-old Khaled Wehbe and 18-year-old Zakaria Dourhnou. Abdulhamid Wehbe faces the most serious charge of second-degree murder, while the younger Khaled Wehbe and Zakaria Dourhnou are charged with being an accessory after the fact. Police said more charges were likely.
All three appeared in court Wednesday.
Wearing blue jail coveralls, Abdulhamid Wehbe stood with his hands behind his back and said nothing but his name during the brief hearing before a justice of the peace. He did not appear to make eye contact with his father or other family members who filled a row of the courtroom before being ordered not to have contact with his two co-accused and six other people.
Khaled Wehbe appeared looking nervous in his blue jail-issue coverall, his eyes darting around the courtroom. A short man who appeared unshaven with his dark hair in a brush cut, Khaled Wehbe at one point bit his lip and wiped his eye before moving his hand to his mouth. He briefly made eye contact with family members who sat in the front row.
Dourhnou appeared more confident, walking into court with the top two buttons of his blue coveralls unbuttoned, exposing his chest. Both he and Khaled Wehbe were remanded in custody until Dec. 14, when they will appear by video. Dourhnou’s lawyer, Mark Ertel, said he would be seeking bail for his client as soon as possible.
Abdulhamid Wehbe, who was also remanded in custody, will next appear in court by video Dec. 17.
Detective work that lasted well into early Tuesday morning led to the arrests. An alert was sent to all officers, describing a dark-coloured car registered to Ottawa-Metro Towing and Recovering Inc., a company contracted by police for the city’s west side. Two were arrested by Wednesday morning and the third appeared at the police station in the afternoon.
One person at the towing company didn’t know the accused and hadn’t work with them. At the Lancaster Road location, a receptionist said repeatedly the company had no comment.
The two young men with the same last name appear to be related. Court records show that none of the accused has a criminal record.
Sources say the shooting was not gang related but is believed to be related to low-level drug dealing.
A friend of Khaled Wehbe, who didn’t want to be identified, said they are taking the same police foundations course at Algonquin College and attended the same high school. The friend said Khaled Wehbe grew up in Overbrook.
“I’ve known him for quite a while, through high school. We went to Immaculata. He was involved in a lot of sports and stuff. There was never any kind of violence or anything like that. He was always at school first thing in the morning, he was always there before anyone else. This is crazy that I’m hearing this.”
Asked if he was shocked with the news of Khaled Wehbe’s arrest, the youth said it “kind of” did because of the police foundations course. “But remember, (Overbrook is) not the best neighbourhood, so getting caught up with something like that wouldn’t be a surprise.”
The youth said that lately, in the second year of their course, Khaled Wehbe became more enthusiastic about it than in the first year.
“He wants to be a police officer.”
The youth said Khaled Wehbe worked at McDonald’s, but when the Citizen called the restaurant, an employee said Khaled had been let go some months ago.
A cousin and friend reached Tuesday, who did not want to be identified, was shocked by the news. “I don’t think (Khaled) is the type of person that would do something like this,” he said. “(Khaled) was actually a really good guy growing up and we were always good friends.”
Abdulhamid Wehbe has lived in the Overbrook area for about 10 years with his mother. Neighbours said Wehbe worked for a tow truck company. A woman who answered the door to Wehbe’s two-storey brick home declined to comment on Tuesday, quickly shutting the door.
Neighbours said the home was often a flurry of activity with as many as 20 teenagers gathered outside at times.
Francis, who doesn’t want her last name used to protect her family, said she and other neighbours often saw hand-to-hand drug deals outside Abdulhamid Wehbe’s house. She said the home was raided a few years ago by police.
Francis said Abdulhamid Wehbe always drove a nice car, including a dark-coloured vehicle with tinted windows. “Beautiful cars. We’re not stupid when you see 19-year-olds driving what they drive,” Francis said. “I always knew and everybody always said, stay away from them.”
On Tuesday morning, Francis said she saw more police cars than usual patrolling the area. Police often drive through the crime-riddled neighbourhood with their lights off as they look out for shady activity. Francis, who has lived in the area for several years, said she wants to move away from the area because of the crime.
Another neighbour who didn’t want her name used to protect her family said Abdulhamid Wehbe often drove his car up and down the street at high speeds. She last saw Abdulhamid Wehbe’s car on Sunday.
“He’s noisy and disrespectful. I never felt comfortable with him. I never trusted him,” she said. She, too, saw drug deals happening in front of the two-storey attached brick home.
Reached on Tuesday, a relative of Ghiasi who did not want to be identified said the 16-year-old was into school and sports, and as far as she knew, nothing else. He had been attending an after-school homework club at Notre Dame Catholic High School to improve his mark in physics and wanted to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering. He studied tae kwon do and participated in track-and-field events as a runner.
“Everybody’s just surviving at the moment,” she said, adding that Ghiasi’s mother was doing better after being hospitalized Monday due to grief and shock. “Family and friends are dropping by, wishing them well and keeping them company.”
“He was the politest boy I ever knew,” the family member said. “Everyone who knows him is going to miss him for a long time. He was so good.”
Ghiasi’s next-door neighbour had no idea what happened, but thought something was strange on Monday when a large number of vehicles started showing up on the otherwise quiet, tree-lined street. A woman there said Ghiasi would cut her grass when she was away, and that the young man always greeted her with a friendly hello. She described him, his parents and sister as “a very fine family” who have lived there for about three years.
“They’re a very caring, sensitive family. It would be devastating. … I find this unbelievable. It’s very, very sad.”
Meanwhile, as classes were set to begin at Ghiasi’s Broadview Avenue high school off Carling Avenue Tuesday, the slain youth’s fellow students expressed shock and sadness.
“It’s pretty sad, what happened. He was an amazing guy,” said Grade 12 student Miguel Robinson, who last saw Ghiasi at a basketball game just a couple of days ago. “I was shocked. It was a really, really sad day. Everyone was sad. I actually went home and started crying, it was so sad.”
Simone Oliver, the Ottawa Catholic School Board’s superintendent of special education and student services, said Notre Dame students gathered inside the school’s chapel early Tuesday morning to pray for Ghiasvand Ghiasi and his family. Oliver, who also heads the Notre Dame family of schools, said the overall mood was one of mourning.
The school chaplaincy and an external multidisciplinary clinical team were working with students and staff who needed help with their grief. The school’s Ottawa police resource officer was also on hand, Oliver said.
Further prayer services were being planned in conjunction with the family’s wishes, Oliver said.
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