A Surrey man found guilty of second-degree murder in the brutal 2018 death of his wife will have to serve 11 years in prison before he is eligible to apply for parole.
A jury found Rizig Hamet Bona, 47, guilty, following a seven-week trial in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster, of murdering his wife Anida Magaya and for that will serve an automatic life sentence. Justice William Ehrcke decided Bona will only be eligible to apply for parole after serving 11 years, despite the jury recommending the minimum 10 years. The maximum is 25.
Bona and his wife lived in a basement suite in Surrey, with their landlord and the landlord’s family living upstairs. Police were called to the couple’s home in the early morning of Oct. 5, 2018 to find the basement door locked and used a battering ram to get inside. They found Magaya’s body in a pool of blood in a spare bedroom, and a baseball bat and machete near her body.
“Paramedics attended and concluded that there was no possibility of resuscitating the deceased,” Ehrcke noted in his reasons for sentencing. “The photographs taken at the scene leave no doubt about the brutality of the killing. Ms. Magaya’s face and head were battered almost beyond recognition.”
Bona testified their relationship “was not free from conflict,” the judge noted.
“People who knew them recommended counselling,” Ehrcke noted. “There were a few incidents when she struck him with a flower pot or poked him with the tip of a knife. He never had any serious injuries from these incidents, although he made a point of going to the hospital after the flowerpot incident and had photographs taken.”
In August 2018 Magaya spent three weeks in a transition house and near the end of that month was diagnosed with a small brain tumour, the court heard. She and Bona began living together again, despite continuing conflict and suspicions of infidelity. The couple met in 2008, married in 2012 and did not have children.
On the evening before her body was found, Bona testified, Magaya came at him with a machete they’d bought for camping. He threw a lamp at her, picked up a baseball bat and swung it at her twice. He told the court he was trying to knock the machete out of her hand and didn’t realize he’d hit her head with the bat. She went down, and couldn’t speak.
Bona then got dressed, took a walk, and drove around for a while before calling 911 and turning himself in at the police station.
The jury decided it was not a case of self-defence or a case of provocation. “They found that Mr. Bona had the intent necessary for murder, that he intended to kill his wife or intended to cause her bodily harm that he knew was likely to cause her death, and was reckless whether death ensued or not,” the judge noted.
The Crown had argued that his eligibility to apply for parole be set after he served between 12 and 14 years, while the defence argued for 10.
“Had it not been for the jury’s recommendation, I would have been inclined to impose a 12 year period of parole ineligibility to give effect to the need for denunciation and deterrence of this act of deadly family violence,” Ehrcke said. “In light of the jury’s recommendation, however, I will fix the period of parole ineligibility at 11 years.”