A Montreal man accused of stabbing his pregnant wife, resulting in the death of their baby, pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder and aggravated assault.
Sofiane Ghazi, 39, was originally charged with first-degree murder in the death of the child and attempted murder against his wife in their Montréal-Nord apartment in 2017.
The woman, whose name is subject to a publication ban, was more than 36 weeks pregnant at the time.
Ghazi pleaded not guilty to the original charges.
His trial began Wednesday morning but ended abruptly in the afternoon — after hearing the first two witnesses, defence lawyer François Taddeo asked for court to be suspended until morning so he and his partner could consult with their client.
In tears on Thursday, Ghazi pleaded guilty to the lesser charges before Quebec Superior Court Justice Jean-François Buffoni at the Montreal courthouse.
Buffoni told the court he believed Ghazi’s pleas were appropriate and acceptable.
Second-degree murder carries an automatic sentence of life in prison. Sentencing arguments will begin Sept. 17 to determine how much time Ghazi must serve behind bars before he is eligible for parole.
Baby died of stab wounds sustained in utero
In an agreed statement of facts presented by prosecutors Thursday, court heard that at the time of the attack, Ghazi and his wife had been married 12 years.
Ghazi admitted that he abused hard drugs. He was under a court order that forbade him from taking drugs, drinking, communicating with his wife without her consent and being at their apartment without her consent.
On July 23, 2017, he showed up to their apartment. His wife asked him to leave, suspecting he had taken drugs.
He refused to go so she called 911. He got angry and left before police arrived.
But in the early morning hours of July 24, he returned and stabbed his wife, who was 33 at the time, with a carving fork.
She had 19 wounds, mainly in her stomach area but also to her left thigh.
She was taken to hospital, and the baby, known to the court only as “Baby Ghazi,” was born via caesarean section but died shortly after.
It was later determined the baby died as a result of the wounds inflicted on the mother.
Wife expected to make statement during sentencing
His wife was among those slated to testify during the trial, along with police investigators, crime scene technicians and paramedics.
She is now expected to make a statement during the sentencing arguments.
Prosecutor Chantal Michaud said the Crown is satisfied with the day’s events, and that her thoughts are with the woman and her two children, a four-year-old girl and a seven-year-old boy.
“We hope that what happened today will help her turn the page and live a life that is as normal as possible,” Michaud said.
She wouldn’t answer specific questions about the plea or the next steps in the case, saying she is saving that information for the sentencing hearing.
Ghazi’s lawyers did not comment.