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Convicted killer can ask for parole now: Windsor, Ont. jury accepts 'faint hope' application

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A Windsor man convicted in a violent murder 20 years ago was successful in his ‘faint hope’ bid for an early chance at freedom after a jury agreed he should be given the chance to apply for early parole eligibility.

A jury of 12 people rendered its verdict Wednesday afternoon, unanimously satisfied that Ali Al-Shammari’s parole ineligibility date should be earlier than Nov. 23, 2029, which is when his 25-year sentence would have run its course.

The jury also agreed that Al-Shammari should be allowed to apply immediately.

Ali-Al Shammari, now 38, was 19 when he and two other men, Mohammed and Hassan Al Gazzi entered a Windsor taxi, murdering Thualfikar Alattiya, who was 41.

After serving nearly 20 years of a mandatory 25-year-sentence, Al-Shammari applied for what’s called a ‘faint hope' hearing to see if he can get early parole eligibility.

In closing summations Wednesday morning, defence attorney Christopher Hicks was first to address the jury, and argued he should be given the chance for early parole because “he improved himself immensely.”

Hicks said Al-Shammari has been well-behaved in prison, found religion, shows remorse, is a low risk for re-incarceration and takes responsibility for his actions in 2004.

Hicks added Al-Shammari also took courses while in prison, learned trades, and moved from a maximum security prison to a minimum security facility thanks to his model display of inmate behaviour.

“This display of discipline and subsequent achievement should give you all a high level of confidence that when released into the larger community, Ali Al-Shammari will be a useful, productive, law-abiding and peaceable citizen, and member of the community,” said Hicks. “This should give you confidence and reassurance.”

Assistant Crown attorney George Spartinos didn’t believe Al-Shammari should be eligible for parole before his 25-year sentence is up.

He told the jury despite personal growth and mostly good behaviour while imprisoned, Al-Shammari’s actions the day of the murder need to be weighed.

Spartinos also pointed to victim impact statements read in court by Alattiya’s family, which showed the deep loss suffered at the hands of the three convicted men.

“The parole ineligibility period should not be reduced and that’s because of the terrible nature of crime, the devastating impact on the family and Mr. Al-Shammari not taking full responsibility for the actions that day,” said Spartinos.

Superior Court Justice Renee Pomerance charged the jury Wednesday afternoon, instructing them to weigh five factors, including Al-Shammari’s character, his conduct while in prison, the nature of the offence, any information provided by a victim during victim impact statements and any other matters the judge considers relevant.

“The law recognizes that people can change, people can rehabilitate. Some people do change and some people do not change, but the law believes in the capacity of people to change, even in the case of the most serious crime,” Pomerance said.

The jury came back with a verdict shortly before 5 p.m. Wednesday evening.

With the jury’s unanimous verdict that Al-Shammari can apply for early parole eligibility immediately, defence co-counsel Peter Ketcheson said the next step is to apply to the parole board.

But the decision does not mean Al-Shammari can now released into the community.

Pomerance made it clear to the jury they were not granting Al-Shammari parole eligibility, but merely giving him “a chance to ask for a chance.”

Ketcheson said once Al-Shammari applies to the parole board, the process could take six months before a decision is rendered, noting there’s no guarantee for parole before the end of the 25-year sentence. 

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