Ottawa man accused of beating woman who was wearing hijab
A man accused in a brutal attack on a woman wearing a hijab in Ottawa was convicted Monday of first-degree murder and was ordered to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
The Crown dropped all charges against 26-year-old James Robert Dees.
A jury found him guilty of first degree murder in the death of 18-year and 23-year old Mahyia Ali.
In a separate verdict, the jury also found him not criminally responsible for his actions.
Dees, of Ottawa, was found guilty of manslaughter.
He was arrested in October after a woman said she was harassed by him on a bus.
Deeds was not in court for Monday’s verdicts.
Ali, a student, was visiting family in Ottawa when she complained about the harassment and the repeated sexual comments she was receiving on a Toronto streetcar.
The pair argued for about 15 minutes and ended up at a McDonald’s.
Debs tried to walk away but Ali stopped him and told him she was being harassed.
He allegedly grabbed her by the neck and pinned her against a wall.
The woman fought back and yelled for help.
She eventually managed to get her cellphone and call police.
Ali was taken to hospital, where she later died.
Deets defence lawyer, John Zadrozny, said the accused was remorseful and apologetic.
He argued that the two incidents were not the kind of harassment that would justify a second-degree manslaughter charge.
“The court found that it was an attack on the very dignity of the woman that happened,” Zadros said outside the courthouse.
He said Dees acted alone.
The judge agreed.
“I’m sure you’ll be glad to hear the sentence that the Crown has provided,” Justice David Bevan told the jury.
Deades lawyer, Robert Mascaro, argued that his client acted in self-defence, which means the accused must have known he was about to kill Ali and he must have planned the attack.
“You’re supposed to feel bad for him, but I’m not sure that you’re doing that,” he said.
Zadrossny told the court that Dees is remorseful for what happened and the attack was an act of self-defense.
Deese had been arrested in June after a 911 call was placed to the woman’s home in the city’s north end.
Deans behaviour “shows that he did not mean to harm her and he didn’t mean to be disrespectful to her,” he told the judge.
De es defense lawyer, said Deese has always had a difficult relationship with his parents and that his mother has a difficult personality.
Zdros said the family would “not be in the position” of having to deal with this case again.
De s defence lawyer said the victim’s mother was also upset by the sentence and wants the woman to have access to her daughter.
De Ces defence lawyer also called on the woman not to wear a hijab to the courtroom.
He also said the incident should not deter women from wearing the hijab.
“It’s not about religion,” he added.