Dr. Elana Fric’s best friend was hoping for stiff justice for the slain physician and mother of three.
Dr. Allyson Koffman was also set to testify against Fric’s husband, Dr. Mohammed Shamji, the neurosurgeon originally charged with first-degree murder in the woman’s slaying.
Instead, Shamji pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Monday.
“I feel cheated,” said Koffman.
The fellow physician, confidante and neighbour said she doesn’t think justice was done by allowing the plea in this horrific case: “Not justice. No.”
She fears the plea could result in a favourable deal for the neurosurgeon who broke her friend’s neck before stuffing the woman’s body into a suitcase and dumping it in the Humber River in Vaughan.
“I lost my best friend. I miss her all the time,” said Koffman.
When I talked her and her husband Dec. 1, 2016, they were worried that then-missing Fric would ended up a victim of a domestic homicide.
Her worst fears come to true Dec. 2 when her body was found.
Shamji will return to court May 8 for a sentencing hearing in which victim impact statements will be submitted. While a second-degree murder conviction mandates a sentence of life in prison, the judge can impose parole eligibility ranging from 10 years to 25 years.
“Whatever the judge decides, the clock stared ticking on time served when he was arrested Dec. 2, 2016. It means he’s almost done 2 1/2 years. So if the judge gives him 17 years, he would be 14 1/2 away from parole eligibility.”
No matter what is decided, there is no bringing Fric back. Her life ended at age 40.
While this plea spares his children — particularly his 14-year-old daughter who came in on the murder in progress — from having to face their dad on the witnesses stand, it fails to allow people like Koffman the opportunity to reveal the content of many confidential conversations with Fric.
The frustrating part, said Koffman, is she and Fric had routinely talked about her marriage and that her friend was hoping to get a divorce as a result of fears for her safety.
“I asked her directly,” she said of whether Fric thought her life was at risk. “She told me that she didn’t think he would kill her because he wouldn’t risk his career.”
For her children’s sake and for her patients, Koffman does not want Fric’s memory to die. Also a singer and songwriter, who goes by the stage name Dr. Ally K, she’s written a song called Monster which addresses her friend’s life and puts the spotlight on domestic abuse.
“It’s for her and for those like her who are in relationships that are violent,” added Koffman.
Can Shamji be a doctor again?
After pleading guilty to the second-degree murder of his wife, Dr. Mohammed Shamji has the opportunity of tasting freedom one day.
But can one of the world’s top neurosurgeons go back to being a doctor again?
Yes, but it is no slam dunk.
“Dr. Shamji is no longer a member of the college,” explained Shae Greenfield, a spokesman for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
So, first the doctor, 40 at the time of the murder of Dr. Elana Fric, would have to apply to be accepted back.
“If Dr. Shamji were ever to apply to the college, all information about his past and present conduct, including his criminal conviction, would be considered by the Registration Committee in determining whether he meets the college’s criteria,” said Greenfield. “Those criteria include requirements that he be mentally competent, and that he would practise medicine with decency, integrity and honesty and in accordance with the law, among other things.”
This is a guy who admits breaking his wife’s neck, putting her body in a suitcase and dumping it by the Humber River.
But once he has done his prison time, he can try.
“The provincial regulation doesn’t bar anyone from applying, so he could apply,” said Greenfield.
It still is unclear how much time he will receive. While a second-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory life sentence, a judge will determine his parole eligibility — 10 years to 25 years — at a later date.