Montreal

Legal aid won't take on Montreal man seeking to withdraw guilty plea for killing child

Superior Court Justice Jean-François Buffoni has given Sofiane Ghazi until Nov. 14 to find a lawyer, saying that otherwise Ghazi will be sentenced for the second-degree murder of his infant child and for the aggravated assault of his then-pregnant ex-wife.

Superior Court judge gives Sofiane Ghazi until Nov. 14 to find a lawyer to represent him.

A legal aid lawyer mandated by the court to look into Sofiane Ghazi's case said her office doesn't think he should withdraw his guilty pleas. (SPVM)

A Quebec man seeking to withdraw his guilty pleas in the killing of his child and the stabbing of his ex-wife won't be represented by legal aid in the case.

Sofiane Ghazi suddenly pleaded guilty on Sept. 5 — the second day of his jury trial — to reduced charges of second-degree murder of the infant boy and the aggravated assault of his wife, stemming from a July 24, 2017 attack.

But when he returned for the sentencing less than two weeks later, Ghazi abruptly fired his attorneys and said he wanted to withdraw his guilty pleas.

Sandra Tremblay, a legal aid lawyer mandated by the court to look into the case, said Thursday that after studying the matter and evaluating the jurisprudence, her office has determined presenting a motion to withdraw the pleas wasn't justified.

Ghazi still wants to present a motion to withdraw and has been given a few more weeks to find a lawyer — but legal aid has determined it won't cover his legal fees.

In an agreed statement of facts, Ghazi admitted to stabbing his wife 19 times with a carving fork — 12 times on the left side of her stomach and seven times in the upper left thigh.

The woman survived the attack. The child, delivered by emergency C-section at the hospital, had a heartbeat for several minutes before succumbing to his injuries.

Of those wounds, nine wounds were inflicted on the child in the womb — known as Baby Ghazi in court documents — and observed after his birth.

Ghazi had initially faced charges of first-degree murder and attempted murder.

Second-degree murder comes with an automatic life sentence, with a minimum of 10 years to be served before becoming eligible for parole.

Superior Court Justice Jean-François Buffoni gave Ghazi a final opportunity to find a lawyer, saying that otherwise sentencing will continue as planned.

The case returns to court on Nov. 14.