A former Surrey schoolteacher who killed his pregnant wife and burned her body on a rural beach in Delta in an attempt to destroy the evidence has lost an appeal of his second-degree murder conviction.
Justice Heather Holmes found Mukhtiar Panghali, 38, of Cloverdale guilty of second-degree murder and interfering with a dead body, in the Oct. 18, 2006, strangulation of Manjit Panghali, 31. His trial was heard in B.C. Supreme Court, in New Westminster, in late 2010 and he was sentenced to life in prison in January 2011, with no eligibility to apply for parole until he's served 11 years.
Mukhtiar had taught physics at Princess Margaret Secondary school. Manjit was also a Surrey schoolteacher, teaching part time at North Ridge Elementary school. She was four months pregnant when she died. The couple had been married nine years and lived in Cloverdale with their three-year-old daughter.
Had he not cheaped out by using his wife's cellphone after killing her, or snuck out in the dead of night to a local store and then lied about it later, Mukhtiar Panghali might have gotten away with murder.
During the trial, Crown prosecutor Dennis Murray laid out the Crown's theory that the teacher killed his wife after she'd returned home from a prenatal yoga class, staged the discovery of her car in Whalley, burned her body on a remote beach along DeltaPort causeway in South Delta, and then delayed for as long as he could to lodge a missing persons complaint with the Surrey RCMP.
Panghali appealed his conviction on grounds the judge had erred in her findings, and that the guilty verdict was unreasonable and unsupported by the evidence.
But B.C. Appeal Court Justice David Frankel dismissed the appeal Tuesday in Vancouver after analyzing and rejecting all of Panghali's arguments. Justices David Harris and Harvey Groberman concurred with Frankel's decision.