It hardly seems enough.
For the systematic, cold-blooded massacre of his entire family over several hours, interspersed with his playing video games, both the Crown and the defence have argued Menhaz Zaman should serve life in prison without any chance of parole for 40 years.
“It’s a very long time and it’s a position we’re asking the court to accept,” said Crown attorney K.J. Stewart.
If Ontario Superior Court Justice Michelle Fuerst agrees, Zaman would be 64 when he could conceivably return to society.
But for slaughtering four people, the multiple murderer could potentially face more than 75 years of parole ineligibility.
Why should he spend even one year less?
During the virtual sentencing hearing, Zaman sat in a small room at the Central East Correctional Centre and listened to the proceedings until the judge asked if he had anything to say.
“Sure. Um, I’m not sure who this is going to reach but I would like to just apologize to anyone I have impacted negatively with my actions,” he said in a master understatement.
“And especially to the people who knew my family and friends and loved ones who I know could have never seen something like this from me happening, I’m sorry.”
Zaman pleaded guilty last month to one count of second-degree murder for the slaying of his mother Momotaz Begum, 50, and to three counts of first-degree murder for the killings of his grandmother Firoza Begum, 70, sister Malesa Zaman, 21, and father Moniruz Zaman, 59.
“These were horrible, monstrous, brutal killings,” the Crown said in recommending 15 years of parole ineligibility for the second-degree murder to run consecutively with the 25 years without parole on the three first-degree murder counts.
“They took place in the family home where all four victims lived with Mr. Zaman. A home is supposed to be a place of safety, of security, of sanctity,” Stewart said.
“Mr. Zaman betrayed those two guiding principles of family life and home life in the most horrific way possible, murdering his entire family, one after another.”
During the grisly killing spree on July 27, 2019, the prosecutor said the college dropout first killed his mom and grandma and then “sat around playing video games and napping” as he waited for his sister and then father to return home from work so he could slit their throats as well.
“I just slaughtered my entire family and will most likely spend my life in jail if I manage to survive,” Zaman texted a friend in Minnesota over the Discord messaging app.
He then sent gruesome pictures of four bodies sprawled in different bedrooms of his Markham home, including a photo of an elderly woman lying on her back, a bloody knife placed beside her.
According to the agreed statement, he struck each on the head, most likely with a crowbar, and then cut their throats when they collapsed.
“My dad was last. My shaking has stopped,” Zaman wrote.
Court heard the gamer was living a double life: he’d told his parents he was studying engineering at York University but had actually dropped out of Seneca College due to his failing grades.
For three years, he maintained his charade, hanging out at the mall and the gym — all while pretending he was attending classes. But Zaman was running out of time — he’d told his parents he was due to graduate July 28.
“I couldn’t have delayed it any longer,” he explained to a friend.
When his fellow gamers demanded to know why he murdered his own family, Zaman said he’d rather kill them than have them bear the shame of learning he was really a “pathetic subhuman.”
“It’s beyond belief,” the Crown countered, “that a young man could do that to his four family members over something relatively minor in the grand scheme of things.”
Calling her client’s guilty plea “a true expression of remorse,” defence lawyer Adele Monaco also urged the judge to impose a life term with 40 years of parole ineligibility.
But what a bargain at just 10 years per relative.
Fuerst is to sentence Zaman on Nov. 2.