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Panghali gets no parole for 15 years

Mukhtiar Panghali - Leader file photos
Mukhtiar Panghali
— image credit: Leader file photos

Mukhtiar Panghali has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years in the murder of his pregnant wife Manjit.

Panghali was convicted of second-degree murder last month for killing 30-year-old Manjit, then burning her body in South Delta.

While Mukhtiar's conviction carries an automatic life sentence of 25 years, the judge reserved his decision last month on parole eligibility.

Crown lawyer Dennis Murray argued at the time that Panghali should serve 20 years behind bars before being paroled because of the murderer's lack of remorse for the horrific crime.

Defence lawyer Michael Tammen asked for a period of parole ineligibility of between 10 and 13 years.

Mukhtiar, 38, did not report his wife missing until 26 hours after her disappearance on Oct. 18, 2006 and then held a tearful press conference with police where he pleaded for his wife's return.

In convicting him in early February, the judge said while the evidence against Mukhtiar was circumstantial, it was very powerful.

That evidence included video footage of Panghali purchasing a lighter and newspaper at a local gas station the night of Manjit's disappearance, and cellphone records that showed Mukhtiar was using Manjit's phone for months after her death, despite her having taken it to her yoga class the night she died. That showed she had returned home after her class that evening and that Mukhtiar was the last person to see her, said the judge.

The judge also denied that the charge be downgraded from second-degree murder to manslaughter, saying that although Manjit's death by strangulation may have been brief, it was extremely forceful – worse than that of a human hanging.

"Mr. Panghali meant to cause bodily harm," the judge said. "... and he knew it would likely cause death."

Burning the body afterwards, she noted, showed further effort and risk taken by Panghali.

A memorial website has been established by Manjit's family at www.manjitpanghali.com

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