CBC NewsPosted: Jun 6, 2011 2:54 PM MT Last Updated: Jun 6, 2011 9:18 PM MT
Tesfai Negasi is on trial for second-degree murder in the death of his wife Selamawit. (CBC)
A jury found an Edmonton man guilty Monday of killing and dismembering his wife.
Tesfai Negasi, 54, was on trial for second-degree murder in Edmonton Court of Queen’s Bench for the death of his wife Selamawit, 46, on July 5, 2009. Negasi was also convicted of offering an indignity to a dead body.
The jury reached its verdict early Monday evening after deliberating for several hours. Second-degree murder charges carry an automatic life sentence.
The jury recommended Negasi not be eligible for parole for at least 20 years. Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Juliana Topolinski will make her decision at a date that will be determined Friday.
The verdict was welcomed by Selamawit Negasi’s friends.
“When she died, it was very emotional,” said Fatma Ghebremusse.
Ghebremusse said Selamawit was heavily involved in the community and was able to raise “wonderful children” despite her marriage to Negasi, who she described as controlling.
“He’s the one who lost … he killed his wife. He lost his own children,” Ghebremusse said.
The trial heard that Negasi drove to Edmonton police headquarters the night he killed his wife. He confessed the slaying to officers and directed them to her body parts in the trunk of his car.
Negasi’s lawyer, Peter Royal, said in final arguments earlier Monday that the jury should instead find his client guilty of manslaughter, not second-degree murder. Negasi pleaded guilty to the charge of offering an indignity to a human body at the start of the trial.
Royal pointed to testimony from chief medical examiner Dr. Graeme Dowling, who could not say with certainty how Selamawit Negasi died.
Dowling told the jury he could only speculate about four possible scenarios: strangulation, suffocation, drowning or a crushed skull.
Royal told the jury these options are only probabilities and something else might have happened that day.
With files from the CBC’s Terry Reith