A man found guilty of the first-degree murder of a pregnant mother in Surrey nearly 10 years ago has lost a bid to overturn his conviction.
Amjad Khan was convicted in June 2013 in the stabbing death of 21-year-old Tasha Lynn Rossette at her home in November 2005.
Khan’s appeal was dismissed by three B.C. Court of Appeal justices this week.
Rossette, a single mother of a three-year-old daughter who had another child on the way, was stabbed dozens of times near the entry of her basement suite near 72 Avenue and 142 Street.
Khan and another man, Naim Saghir, faced trial twice in connection to the gruesome murder.
During the first trial, both were found guilty of first-degree murder by a jury in 2008. They appealed the conviction, however, and were granted a new trial, which took place in 2013.
During the second, judge-only trial in 2013, Saghir was acquitted and Khan was again found guilty.
At trial, the Crown alleged Khan wanted Rossette dead because she was carrying his child (potentially shaming his family) and refused to get an abortion. The two knew each other from high school but had a more recent sexual relationship. Prosecutors theorized that Khan arranged the murder and Saghir did the actual killing.
In appealing his conviction, Khan argued, in part, that because the charge alleged both he and Saghir killed Rossette, the acquittal of Saghir should have resulted in his acquittal as well.
In their July 13 decision, three appeal court justices disagreed with Khan’s assessment.
“The Crown’s theory was that Mr. Saghir was the killer, but proving this was not part of the Crown’s burden in establishing the guilt of the appellant. It only had to do so to convict Mr. Saghir,” reads the July 13 decision by Justice Edward Chiasson, with Justices Daphne Smith and David Harris in agreement.
Khan also argued the trial judge failed to consider the context of a comment he made to a female witness that he’d “dealt with it” when she asked about the pregnant woman.
Khan also argued the judge didn’t properly assess the credibility of “unsavoury” witnesses – a man with a prior criminal past who testified Khan tried to hire him to kill Rossette, and a roommate of Saghir’s who sometimes dealt drugs.
Again, the appeal court judges found the trial judge’s findings sound.
They said while the woman didn’t recall some parts of the conversation, she clearly recalled the comment.
As for two men, the appeal justices found their testimony was assessed appropriately by the judge.
“He found them to be unsavoury witnesses and treated their evidence accordingly,” wrote Chiasson in his decision.
Khan, who operated a dial-a-dope operation, testified at the trial, admitting he’d spent time with Rossette the night she was killed, but saying he dropped her off at her home and went home. He denied arranging to have anyone kill her.
Khan will continue to serve his life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.