Daughter 'saw everything' as mother and her friend were killed, stepdad's trial hears
Sanjula Devi, 36, and her friend Fahmida Velji-Visram, 29, were killed in 2014
A Calgary man accused of stabbing his estranged wife and her friend to death three years ago faced his stepdaughter on the first day of his trial Monday, as the teenager recounted the day her mother was killed.
Hari Pal is on trial for second-degree murder and aggravated assault in the deaths of Sanjula Devi and her friend Fahmida Velji-Visram.
It is alleged Pal attacked the women in front of his wife's nine-year-old daughter.
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The court saw video testimony of the girl taken by police the night of the attack. The 13-year-old was in court on Monday, but appeared on camera from a separate courtroom.
In the 2014 video, Devi's daughter, who is now 13, testified that she "saw everything."
On May 4, 2014, she said they went to a basement suite in the southeast community of Penbrooke — where the family had lived together until a couple of weeks before the attack — to collect personal items left behind after moving out.
The girl said she and her mother moved out after her mom told her that Pal tried to strangle her.
When they arrived at the house, Devi's daughter said they were confronted by Pal, who was wielding a knife.
According to the daughter's testimony, Velji-Visram was the first to be attacked. She ran from the apartment screaming and bleeding.
The landlord's daughter who lived upstairs heard the commotion and came downstairs, the girl said, and was stabbed in the back before running upstairs to call police.
The girl said she and her mom ran screaming into her bedroom and locked the door. Her mom frantically tried to call police, while Pal kicked at the door and broke it open.
She then saw Pal, who the girl referred to as her dad, stab her mom multiple times until her mom collapsed.
Then, she said, Pal ran out a side door to get away.
Trial previously delayed
The case against Hari Pal was already delayed last fall because of concerns about the accused's mental health, but he was deemed fit to stand trial.
Earlier on Monday, the judge granted a request by Pal's defence team to have a psychiatrist reassess the man's mental fitness over the noon hour.
Defence lawyer Andre Oullette said he wants to make sure his client can fully participate in, and understand, the court proceedings.
On Tuesday, the landlord's daughter, who was stabbed and survived, is set to testify.
With files from Kate Adach