Jury deliberations are expected to get underway this week in a Guelph murder trial after five weeks of arguments from Crown and defence lawyers.
Both sides wrapped up closing arguments on Monday in the trial of 26-year-old Raja Dosanjh, who has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of a hotel manager on March 1, 2016.
Aly Sunderani was shot about a dozen times just after 4:30 p.m. outside the front entrance of the Comfort Inn on Silvercreek Parkway.
After a Canada-wide arrest warrant was issued, Dosanjh was arrested 10 months later by the RCMP in his home province of British Columbia.
A possible motive was never established, but police believe that it was a targeted shooting.
The trial at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Woolwich Street has been heavily guarded by members of Guelph police. Officers have been stopping everyone who enters through the main entrance of the courthouse and have been posted outside the courtroom.
Dosanjh remains in custody. Family and friends of both the victim and the accused were in attendance on Monday.
A jury of six men and six women have heard from over 50 witnesses, including Dosanjh’s brother-in-law who was called as a defence witness.
Dalvir Passi told court that he was at his home with Dosanjh on the day of Sunderani’s death.
He testified that two tall white men showed up and borrowed an SUV that Dosanjh had rented. The same vehicle — a black Infiniti QX60 — was later used as the getaway vehicle following the shooting.
Video surveillance shows Dosanjh renting the vehicle in Mississauga. It was also seen at the hotel 30 minutes before the shooting, and then returned by Dosanjh the next day.
Assistant Crown attorney Julia Forward used part of her closing argument to try and poke holes in Passi’s testimony.
She described him as not a credible witness and urged the jury to ignore his testimony during their deliberations.
Police refused to be interviewed by investigators, citing a mistrust of police.
Forward argued it made no sense why Passi wouldn’t go to police as an alibi witness and how it was hard to believe that 10 months later, he remembered specific details on a certain day about the men who borrowed Dosanjh’s SUV.
She said those two white men described by Passi were “fictitious.”
It’s alleged that Passi may have been the getaway driver following the shooting, but that has never been proved in court.
In her presentation, defence lawyer Julianna Greenspan said the Crown’s case is “circumstantial” and the “materials presented were incredibly dense.”
She pointed out that a hotel employee identified the shooter as a balding white man, similar to the description Passi provided of the two men who met with Dosanjh earlier in the day.
Forward argued the witness was looking at the shooter’s back and struggled with his memory during the trial.
During this portion of her closing argument, Foward showed blurry surveillance video of the shooting. Sunderani’s family was visibly upset while sitting in the gallery and a woman believed to be his sister left the courtroom for a moment.
Forward also argued that the eyewitness who said he saw a white man pull the trigger couldn’t have seen the shooter’s skin, because not only was his back turned, but another witness testified that he saw the shooter wearing a hood after the murder.
Another key piece of evidence in the case was Dosanjh’s DNA that was found on the gun, a Sterling nine-millimetre sub-machine gun, found at the scene.
Greenspan called into question the DNA’s validity arguing the sample was quite small and it didn’t prove her client killed Sunderani.
She said there is no timestamp when it comes to DNA and Dosanjh’s DNA could’ve easily and innocently transferred onto the gun without him even touching it.
“DNA cannot prove who the shooter was,” Greenspan argued.
But Forward said the DNA profile suggested it is 3.7 million times more likely if it originated from Dosanjh and two unknown people than if it originated from three unknown people.
The jury will be charged by Justice Gordon Lemon on Wednesday morning and the jury is expected to begin deliberations that afternoon.
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