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'I wasn’t assaulting him but I also was not helping him': convicted Windsorite provides jury with first-person account of murder

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Ali Al-Shammari is 20 years into a life sentence for the first-degree murder of Thualfikar Alattiya, 41, killed on November 19, 2004.

Al-Shammari,38, is asking a jury – now down to 12 people - to give him a chance to ask for parole five years sooner than sentenced.

It’s called a ‘faint hope hearing’ in the Criminal Code of Canada.

Al-Shammari told the jury his family first emigrated from Kuwait to the United States before the family “walked” through the Detroit-Windsor tunnel to enter Canada when he was a young boy.

He described his upbringing as a “lonely existence” because of the language barrier.

By high school however, Al-Shammari says he was fully fluent in English and had lots of friends in high school.

In the fall of 2004, Al-Shammari says his friends, including one who was 17 at the time, asked for help with a fight.

"(They said) ‘This guy, he's messing with our family and we gotta punch him out," Al-Shammari testified Thursday. “Murder was not on the table at this time.”

Al-Shammari told the jury he did not know who they were assaulting but admitted he did bring his own knife on the morning of Nov. 19 when they called and asked for one specific taxi driver.

It was only after he and his 17-year-old friend got into the cab – Al-Shammari in front, his friend in back – that he realized it was Alantiyya; his fathers’ friend.

Al-Shammari said it was “stunning” how fast the attack and Alantiyya’s subsequent death occurred.

He told the jury his friend started to strangle Alantiyya with a cord from the backseat so Al-Shammari cut the seatbelt so the attack could continue in the backseat.

“I wasn’t assaulting him (Alattiya),” Al-Shammari admitted to the jury. “But I also was not helping him.”

Al-Shammari disputes some trial evidence

Al-Shammari told the jury it was his 17-year-old accomplice who asked for the knife; he did not give the knife to him with an order to “kill him” as presented during his trial in 2007.

“I uttered the remark, ‘We have to kill him?’ as in a question not as a direction,” Al-Shammari testified.

Alantiyya recognized the two men, even though they had ski masks on their faces.

“I know your fathers, shame on you,” Al-Shammari says Alantiyya said to them.

At this point, he alleges his accomplice started to panic.

“He knows us! He knows us! We have to kill him,” Al-Shammari alleges the 17-year-old said.

“I was thinking about myself to be honest. I wasn’t thinking about the victim. I was (wondering) ‘Am I gonna be next? So I better shut my face because this guy is losing his fricking mind,’” Al-Shammari recalled thinking.

He told the jury after the murder, Al-Shammari, the 17-year-old and Mohamed Al Ghazzi, the third accomplice drove to their home to clean up and try to “act normal”.

Al-Shammari said the knife they used was thrown down a sewer drain near a restaurant on Wyandotte Street West.

Al-Shammari told the jury he and Mohamed Al Ghazzi were initially tried together, but the latter pleaded guilty to second-degree murder after he “got a deal” to be a Crown witness.

According to Al-Shammari Al Ghazzi has served his 10-year prison sentence and has since been deported back to Iraq.

Anger and denial in prison

Al-Shammari admitted he was angry about his conviction and in denial about his role in the murder when he was first incarcerated.

Once he entered the federal system however, he told the jury he realized he had a decision to make.

“Who do you want to be? You made a mistake but is this going to define you?” he recalls thinking.

Al-Shammari says he turned to Islam and it’s central tenets; proclaim it, live it, perfect it.

While incarcerated in Kent Institute in British Columbia, he secured prayer mats to organize a Friday prayer services for himself and other Muslim inmates.

“Religion is my foundation,” Al-Shammari testified, telling the jurors he believes he would be dead or a drug addict by now if it were not for his faith.

Throughout his time in prison, Al-Shammari has spent hundreds of hours working on his education, his mental health and his rehabilitation.

The jury has previously learned Al-Shammari has never failed any drug or intoxicant testing.

“I’ve clearly shown I can follow the rules,” he told the jury.

The hearing will resume Friday afternoon with Al-Shammari on cross-examination by Assistant Crown Attorney George Spartinos.

Correction

Correction: The correct spelling is Alattiya, not Alantiyya.

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