Tragedy of ‘golden’ daughter’s fall resonates with Asian immigrants

Straight A student to murderer: Tragedy of ‘golden’ daughter’s fall resonates with Asian immigrants

 | July 27, 2015 | Last Updated: Jul 27 4:54 PM ET
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Jennifer Pan's  trial, for plotting with hit men to kill her parents, ended in January, and she's serving a long sentence. But the full story of this troubled young woman is just now being told as a complete and powerful narrative by someone who knew her.

For a while, Tragedy of ‘golden’ daughter’s fall resonates with Asian immigrants’s parents regarded her as their “golden” child.

The young Canadian woman, who lived in the city of Markham just north of Toronto, was a straight A student at a Catholic school who won scholarships and early acceptance to college. True to her father’s wishes, she graduated from the University of Toronto’s prestigious pharmacology program and went on to work at a blood-testing lab at SickKids hospital.

Pan’s accomplishments used to make her mother and father, Bich Ha and Huei Hann Pan, brim with pride. After all, they had arrived in Toronto as refugees from Vietnam, working as labourers for an auto parts manufacturer so their two kids could have the bright future that they couldn’t attain for themselves.

But in Pan’s case, that perfect fate was all an elaborate lie. She failed to graduate from high school, let alone the University of Toronto, as she had told her parents. Her trial, for plotting with hit men to kill her parents, ended in January, and she’s serving a long sentence. But the full story of this troubled young woman is just now being told as a complete and powerful narrative by someone who knew her.

A social butterfly with an easy, high-pitched laugh, she mixed with guys, girls, Asians, Caucasians, jocks, nerds, people deep into the arts

In a story published in Toronto Life magazine last week, reporter Karen Ho detailed the intricate web of deception that her high school classmate at Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School in north Scarborough spun to prevent her parents from discovering the unimaginable: that their golden child was, in fact, failing. Using court documents and interviews, Ho pieced together Pan’s descent from a precocious elementary schooler to a chronic liar who forged report cards, scholarship letters and university transcripts — all to preserve an image of perfection. The headline: “Jennifer Pan’s Revenge: the inside story of a golden child, the killers she hired, and the parents she wanted dead.”

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Sanctuary cities send bad message

Sanctuary cities send bad message

Candice Malcolm

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FIRST POSTED: | UPDATED: 

Immigration

In the early evening of July 1, my husband and I found ourselves at a lively pub in San Francisco’s financial district. Surrounded by hundreds of friendly Canadians, we celebrated our nation’s birthday by donning red and white, drinking Canadian beer, and indulging in maple-glazed donuts and greasy poutine.

A few blocks away, Kate Steinie, a 32-year-old tech professional and her father took a stroll along San Francisco’s picturesque waterfront. Seemingly out of nowhere, Steinie was shot dead. The shooter is an illegal immigrant from Mexico; a man deported on five previous occasions.

He shot Steinie in a drug-fuelled state, for no reason whatsoever.

The backlash has caused a frenzy. Americans are furious that an illegal immigrant – a man deported multiple times with multiple felony charges – was back in the United States and able to shoot an innocent stranger. It is unfathomably irresponsible that such a man was roaming the streets of San Francisco, in possession of a handgun no less.

The terrible incident has sprung a national debate on immigration.

Many in particular have criticized San Francisco’s status as a “sanctuary city,” that is, a city that purposely does not enforce national immigration laws and acts as a “safe space” for undocumented illegal immigrants.

B.C.: Refugee family from Saudi Arabia built notorious family crime empire in Canada

B.C. parents learn hard $170,000 lesson in breeding ‘family crime empire’

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 | June 11, 2015 10:56 PM ET
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The family’s fourth son, Mahmoud Alkhalil, was one of three people killed in a notorious gunfight in 2003 in Vancouver’s Loft Six nightclub.

Nick Procaylo/Postmedia News/Files The family’s fourth son, Mahmoud Alkhalil, was one of three people killed in a notorious gunfight in 2003 in Vancouver’s Loft Six nightclub.

Two of their sons died in gangland shootouts, two others face drug trafficking or murder charges from mob-related incidents, and a fifth is on the run abroad. Now, their parents are learning another hard lesson in breeding a self-made crime group — they’ve lost the $170,000 they posted to have their eldest son released from jail.

Hossein Al Khalil and Soumayya Azzam were fighting in court to salvage bond money paid to have Nabil Alkhalil released. Their bond was lost when he fled Canada on a bogus passport soon after.

The judge’s ruling against them — with Nabil still a fugitive — is but one entry in an unrelenting stream of bad news involving their sons.

Toronto Police Service

Toronto Police Service Rabih Alkhalil is charged in a Vancouver hit and in a shooting at a cafe patio in Toronto’s Little Italy.

These two parents of five sons came to Canada, presumably to make a better life for themselves. Now, having buried two kids before they reached the age of 20, they have two more facing the possibility of a long time in prison,” said Sgt. Lindsey Houghton of B.C.’s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.

“The actions of these boys have destroyed that family.”

The family arrived in Canada from Saudi Arabia as refugees in 1990, although their roots are believed to be in Iran, and settled in Surrey, B.C. After two sons were killed in gangland violence, they moved to Ottawa and Montreal.

“They took all of their organized crime and gang connections with them,” said Houghton.

The couple’s second son had been the first to die.

In 2001, Khalil Alkhalil, 19, was shot dead in Surrey in a gunfight over a drug debt. His killer claimed self-defence and was freed. The shooter’s lawyer was beaten up in court by angry supporters of Alkhalil, and the shooter himself was later gunned down in Kelowna in a case that remains unsolved.

The fourth son, Mahmoud Alkhalil, was one of three people killed in a notorious gunfight in 2003 between gang rivals in Vancouver’s Loft Six nightclub. He made it out of the building, but was found bleeding and unconscious after crashing his car 20 blocks away. When he succumbed to his injuries at age 19, he already had a lengthy criminal record.

The youngest son, Rabih “Robby” Alkhalil, was only two when he came to Canada.

CABBAGETOWN: Eritrean refugee Adonay Zekarias convicted of first-degree murder in stabbing death of co-national Nighisti Semret

Guilty verdict in grisly Cabbagetown murder 2:19

Adonay Zekarias was convicted on Tuesday of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Nighisti Semret.

Semret, 55, was found stabbed to death on a rainy morning on Oct. 23, 2012 as she walked down a Cabbagetown laneway following a night shift a nearby hotel.

She was stabbed seven times. Court heard that Semret fought her attacker, getting blood under her nails.

“Justice was served today,” Crown Attorney Mary Humphrey said.

The jury came back with a guilty verdict within four hours. The conviction comes with an automatic life sentence.

“My client and his family are very disappointed with the verdict,” said Susan Adams, Zekarias’s lawyer.

Semret had once been helping Zekarias with his English and both were Eritrean refugees.

Sentencing will commence on Friday at which time Semret’s son will make a victim impact statement.

Charged in another murder

​Some information, however, was not allowed to reach jury members before making their decision.

Zekarias, 43, has been charged in another murder, that of 28-year-old Rigat Ghirmay.

Adonay ZekariasAdonay Zekarias, seen above, has been convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Nighisti Semret. (Toronto Police Service)

Details about the other charge came out in an investigation led by police homicide Det. Gary Giroux who questioned Zekarias on Sept. 30, 2013, about 11 months after Semret’s death.

Ghirmay’s remains were found in a duffle bag in Toronto’s west end about six months after Semret was killed. Some remains are still missing.

 

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Mohammad Shafia and his gang terrorize inmates to attend Friday prayers

Senate committee hears about Shafia, serving life sentence for 2009 murders of 1st wife, 3 daughters

CBC News Posted: May 05, 2015 11:22 AM ET Last Updated: May 05, 2015 12:42 PM ET

Mohammad Shafia, his wife, Tooba Yahya and their son, Hamed, were convicted in 2012 of the murders of the couple's three daughters and Shafia's first wife. A national security committee was told Tuesday that Mohammad Shafia intimidated inmates into attending prayers.Mohammad Shafia, his wife, Tooba Yahya and their son, Hamed, were convicted in 2012 of the murders of the couple’s three daughters and Shafia’s first wife. A national security committee was told Tuesday that Mohammad Shafia intimidated inmates into attending prayers.
The Montreal man serving a life sentence for killing his wife and three teenage daughters intimidated other prisoners to the point that one asked to be put in isolation, a Senate committee has heard. Psychologist Robert Groves, who worked in Kingston Penitentiary, testified Monday before the national security and defence committee hearing on security threats facing Canada. He said he met with one particular non-Muslim inmate who went to great lengths to avoid Shafia.

“It turned out that he felt so intimidated by Shafia and some of his lieutenants, that he chose to give up his relative freedom of movement on the range in the general population for a much more restricted life on a social isolation range,” Groves said. “He could no longer come to see me. I had to go to his cell on the isolation range. He advised me that confinement was worth it to avoid the hassle of dealing with ‘the Muslims’” After his first-degree murder conviction in 2012, Shafia took on a religious leadership role at the Kingston Penitentiary — the onetime maximum-security prison — organizing Friday prayers when the sole Imam permitted to minister to inmates in Canada was not available, according to Groves.

TORONTO: Peer Mohammad Khairi, who almost decapitated wife, loses appeal

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By: Diana Mehta The Canadian Press, Published on Wed Apr 22 2015

Ontario’s highest court upheld the second-degree murder conviction of an Afghan immigrant who nearly decapitated his wife, calling the woman’s death a “horrific” killing in a decision released Wednesday.

Peer Mohammad Khairi, a father of six, had argued that the judge who presided over his trial made several errors, and asked the appeal court for a new trial.

If a fresh trial couldn’t be ordered, Khairi had asked that his period of parole ineligibility — currently set at 15 years after he was sentenced to life in prison — be lowered to 10 or 11 years.

He was turned down by Ontario’s Court of Appeal on both fronts.

“The conviction appeal is dismissed. While we grant leave to appeal the sentence, the sentence appeal is dismissed,” the court’s decision said.

Khairi had admitted to killing his wife in March 2008, it was the circumstances of the death that had been in dispute at his trial, the court noted.

“He contended that he lacked the intent for murder due to mental health issues. Alternatively, he claimed that he stabbed his wife in the heat of passion, caused by her allegedly provocative words and conduct,” the appeal court wrote.

A jury deliberated for three days in 2012 before finding Khairi guilty of second-degree murder.

In his appeal, Khairi argued that the trial judge erred by not declaring a mistrial after what was allegedly an “improper” opening statement from Crown prosecutors, whose effect was allegedly to prevent him from receiving a fair trial. He also claimed the prosecution’s closing address was inflammatory.

The appeal court agreed that the Crown’s opening statement was improper, but found that the trial judge adequately instructed the jury that the Crown’s remarks exceeded the scope of a proper opening statement.

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Khairi, who was born in Afghanistan, immigrated to Canada with his wife and children in 2003 after having spent the previous 15 years in India.

The family settled in Toronto but due to the couple’s limited education and inability to speak English, neither of them could find work, court documents have noted.

In 2006, the family had financial troubles and the relationship between Khairi and his wife became strained, the documents said.

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