Markham, Ont. man who killed his entire family gets life in prison with no chance of parole for 40 years
TORONTO -- A 24-year-old Markham, Ont. man who killed his mother, father, sister, and grandmother inside their family home last summer has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 40 years.
Wearing an orange prison jumpsuit and looking into a camera set up inside the Central East Correctional Centre, Menhaz Zaman learned his legal fate via videoconference on Friday afternoon.
“What occurred in that house can be described as a slaughter,” Justice Michelle Fuerst said inside a Newmarket courthouse on Friday, while describing Zaman as “deeply disturbed.”
“Words such as brutal, cruel, cold and callus do not begin to convey the enormity of his violence.”
The decision on sentencing was handed down by Fuerst after Zaman pleaded guilty to four murder charges on Sept. 24. He pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder in relation to the death of his mother, 50-year-old Momotaz Begum, and three counts of first-degree murder in relation to the deaths of his grandmother, 70-year-old Firoza Begum, his sister, 21-year-old Malesa Zaman, and his father, 59-year-old Moniruz Zamanon.
A conviction of first-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years and a conviction of second-degree murder also carries an automatic life sentence but parole ineligibility is set by the judge between 10 and 25 years. Parole ineligibility periods can be stacked consecutively for multiple counts of murder.
During a virtual hearing held on Oct. 26, defense lawyer Adele Monaco said her client instructed her to make a joint position with the Crown on sentencing with parole ineligibility set at 40 years – 15 years for the one count of second-degree murder and 25 years consecutive for the first count of first-degree murder. The parole ineligibility periods for the second and third counts of first-degree murder would therefore be served concurrently.
Zaman, who had no prior criminal record, will be 64 years old when he is first eligible to apply for parole.
On Friday, Zaman stood from his chair as Fuerst said she believed the joint position from the Crown and the defense was an appropriate sentence.
The murder charges were laid against Zaman after emergency crews were called to a home on Castlemore Avenue on the afternoon of July 28, 2019.
He was immediately taken into custody when police arrived at the residence that day, just before officers walked through the home and located the four bodies on the upper floor.
The grim discovery was made after users of an online gaming platform led investigators to the home.
According to an agreed statement of facts, Zaman killed his mother first at 3 p.m. on July 27, 2019 in the master bedroom and then his grandmother about an hour later, also in the master bedroom. He then sat around playing video games and napping while waiting for his father and sister to return from their jobs. He killed his sister around 11 p.m. in the guest bedroom and then his father about an hour after that in his sister’s bedroom.
Autopsies revealed that Zaman struck each of them on the head, with most likely a crow bar, and cut their throats once they fell to the floor.
“Zaman executed four unsuspecting family members in their own home,” the judge said on Friday. “It defies understanding that while his mother and grandmother lay upstairs in their own blood, Zaman played video games and napped to pass the time, apparently untroubled as he lay in wait to slay his sister and father in the same manner.”
Following submissions from both the defense and the Crown at last week’s sentencing hearing, Zaman spoke briefly, apologizing for his actions.
“I would like to just apologize to anyone I have impacted negatively with my actions,” Zaman told a virtual courtroom. “Especially to the people who knew my family – friends and loved ones who I know could have never seen something like this from me happening.”
After the murders took place, the agreed statement of facts said, Zaman texted a friend in the United States saying, “I just slaughtered my entire family.” He also sent a photo of four people on the ground with blood.
Zaman told the friend he felt shame because his family believed he was studying engineering at York University. He was enrolled in an electronics engineering program at Seneca College, but dropped out in 2015 after two semesters due to failing grades.
“By July 2019, Zaman had been leading a double life for years,” Fuerst said. “Rather than facing revelation of his lie to his family, he brutally murdered them at home.”
“No right-thinking member of society would see any remote correlation between the imminent disclosure of the secret of Zaman’s non-attendance at school and the vicious taking of the lives of the four people closest to him.”
Zaman’s family believed he was set to graduate from York University on July 28, 2019 – the day after they were killed.