Mukhtiar Panghali, who earlier this year was found guilty of murdering his pregnant wife and burning her body, is appealing his conviction.
Panghali, a former Surrey high school teacher, was convicted of second-degree murder in the violent 2006 death of his pregnant wife Manjit Panghali, a 31-year-old elementary school teacher.
Mukhtiar’s conviction carried a life sentence with no possibility of parole for 15 years.
However, he has now made an application to the B.C. Court of Appeal to throw out his conviction.
Manjit’s family says they expected the appeal.
“Some people would have felt guilty,” said Manjit’s sister Jasmine Bhambra. “But we know that’s not who he is. There is no remorse coming from him.”
Mukhtiar Panghali did not report his wife missing until 26 hours after her disappearance on Oct. 18, 2006 and shortly after, held a tearful press conference with police where he pleaded for Manjit’s return.
Her burned body was discovered on a South Delta shoreline next to a truck route a few days later. She was four months pregnant with her second child. Her husband wasn’t charged with second-degree murder until five months later.
In convicting Panghali in early February, Supreme Court Justice Heather Holmes said while the evidence against him was circumstantial, it was very powerful.
During the trial, 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 the fact she took it to her yoga class the night she died. That showed Manjit had returned home after her class that evening and that Mukhtiar was the last person to see her, said the justice in delivering her ruing early this year.
Holmes 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.
Bhambra is confident Panghali’s murder conviction will stand.
“He’s just spinning his wheels. This is something anyone in that position would do. There is no basis for the appeal.”
A court date to hear the appeal has yet to be set.