Calgary

Man who killed, dismembered father handed life sentence with no parole for 15 years

For what the prosecutor described as the "brutal, callous and gruesome" murder and dismemberment of his father, Zaineddin Al Aalak has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years. 

Warning: This story contains disturbing details

Zaineddin Al Aalak, seen here in a Facebook photo he posted of himself, was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of his father. He will be sentenced to life in prison. (Zaineddin Al Aalak/Facebook)

For what the prosecutor described as the "brutal, callous and gruesome" murder and dismemberment of his father, Zaineddin Al Aalak has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years. 

In December, a jury convicted Zaineddin Al Aalak on charges of second-degree murder and indignity to a body in the death of Mohamed Jasmin Al Aalak, 53.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice David Labrenz heard arguments Thursday in Calgary, delivering his sentence immediately after. On top of the parole ineligibility, Al Aalak was handed a four-year sentence for indignity to a body, which will be served concurrently. 

Defence wanted to argue Al Aalak suffers from mental illness as a mitigating factor, but Labrenz found it was "an elaborate construct to deflect responsibility."

'By my hands that he died'

When given the chance to address the court before he was sentenced, Al Aalak continued to blame the killing on his mental state.

"I express that I am in the deepest state of inexplicable and irrecoverable remorse and sadness," said the killer. "It was by my hands that he died and for this I am sorry and in grief beyond words."

"The reason this happened was due to an altered state of mind I experienced."

Prosecutor Carla MacPhail had asked for a 16- to 18-year period before Al Aalak could seek parole, and defence lawyer Alain Hepner asked the judge to impose a 13- to 14-year ineligibility period. 

Jurors heard the father and son had a difficult relationship.

In July 2017, Mohamed showed up at his son's Calgary home, where Al Aalak attacked his father from behind with a hammer before choking him.

Al Aalak then stored his father's body in a freezer, later dismembering him and dumping the body parts at an Okotoks construction site. Two days later, a construction worker moved a bag at the site and Mohamed's head rolled out.

At trial, defence lawyers Hepner and Kelsey Sitar argued their client was suffering psychosis at the time of the killing and was unable to understand that his actions were morally wrong. 

Defence lawyers asked the jury to return with a not criminally responsible (NCR) verdict. 

Battle of the experts

Crown and defence each had a forensic psychiatrist testify. 

The two experts had very different opinions as to whether the accused should be found criminally responsible.

The defence expert, Dr. Sergio Santana, examined Al Aalak and testified the accused was hearing voices on July 15, 2017, and was suffering from a schizophrenia-related psychosis when he killed his father. 

Dr. Yuri Metelitsa, who was called as a witness by the prosecution, said he believed Al Aalak was malingering — faking psychotic symptoms in order to escape criminal liability.

Al Aalak was diagnosed with COVID-19 mid-trial, which was held on the Stampede Grounds to allow for physical distancing not possible at the Calgary courthouse. 

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