Hamed Shafia's lawyer has applied to appeal his client's first-degree murder conviction and says the other two lawyers involved with the case will likely do the same for Tooba Yahya and Mohammad Shafia.

"He is quite determined to pursue it and continue the fight, so to speak," lawyer Patrick McCann said Tuesday, after filing an application with the Ontario Court of Appeal.

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Lawyer Patrick McCann says his client is determined to appeal his first-degree murder conviction. (Lorian Belanger/Radio-Canada)

Echoing reports made in his closing arguments in the trial, the Ottawa-based lawyer said statements from the victims made to their boyfriends and teachers, who testified in court, represented hearsay evidence and should not have been heard by the jury.

"They’re reporting what someone else has said," McCann said. "That evidence is fundamentally inadmissible and normally inadmissible. It’s only in somewhat exceptional circumstances that it gets admitted.… It requires some great care in assessing that kind of evidence before it should go in."

On Sunday, the seven women and five men on the jury convicted Hamed Shafia, 21, his mother Tooba Yahya, 42, and his father, Mohammad Shafia, 59, on four counts each of first-degree murder.

They were handed automatic life sentences with no chance of parole for at least 25 years.

The victims, Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti Shafia, 13, and Rona Amir, 50, were found dead in a car submerged in the Kingston Mills lock in June 2009.

The jury found the Shafias guilty of planning, killing and covering up the murders in an attempt to restore family honour in the wake of alleged betrayals and inappropriate behaviour of the girls and their stepmother.

In addition to the hearsay evidence, McCann pointed to an expert in "honour killings" called by the Crown as another basis for appeal.

University of Toronto professor Shahrzad Mojab testified in court about so-called honour-killings and how the utterings of the Shafias, captured on wiretaps, are consistent with the notion of them she found in her research.

She told the court that when family honour is threatened, it is acceptable and expected in some cultures that a male family member could kill a relative.

The defence argued in its closing arguments that Mojab hadn’t done any fieldwork in Afghanistan and her observations were biased.

"The fact that the witness herself acknowledging having an agenda, had devoted her life to a very worthy cause, no doubt, eradicating patriarchy throughout the world, but it tends to colour the evidence," he said.

Calls to the Ontario Attorney General’s Office regarding appeals were not immediately returned.

Corrections

  • An earlier headline suggested all three Shafias will appeal their murder verdicts, however only Hamed Shafia's lawyer has confirmed he has filed his client's application to appeal
    Jan 31, 2012 5:00 AM ET