Parkinson’s disease is not a ground for an appeal on two murder convictions, B.C.’s Court of Appeal ruled July 15.
Maurio Salehi had applied to the court to vacate two guilty pleas made in February 2019, part of a plea arrangement where the Crown agreed not to pursue first-degree murder charges.
He had requested an extension for an appeal, a request rejected by Justice David Harris.
“There seems to have been no plausible defence to the fact that the applicant had caused the death of his victims,” Harris said.
Salehi was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the stabbing deaths of Iryna Gabalis, 56, and Dmitri Faktorovski, 53, in July 2015 in Coquitlam.
Gabalis had met with Salehi July 14 to drop off some keys before going to meet Faktorovski at Vancouver International Airport. Salehi followed her and took photos but she spotted him.
Salehi texted her five times, at one point threatening suicide. He also called 14 times.
Early the next day, he entered her home, found her in bed and stabbed her dozens of times.
During the attack, Faktorovski came upstairs and was also stabbed multiple times.
Salehi left the house after having cleaned himself of blood and changing out of his bloody clothes, which he took with him, as well as Gabalis’ cell phone. He discarded them en route to Richmond.
Later that day, Salehi received treatment for a broken arm at Richmond Hospital. While there, he called Gabalis’ office and told her assistant that he had tried to reach Gabalis, feigning concern about her well-being.
“Mr. Salehi took these steps in an effort to conceal the fact that he had just stabbed Ms. Gabalis and Mr. Faktorovski to death,” the court ruling said.
When Gabalis didn’t attend work on July 16, co-workers contacted her son, who discovered the dead bodies and called 911.
Salehi was arrested days later.
With the guilty pleas and an agreed statement of facts, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Martha Devlin sentenced Salehi to life imprisonment without parole for 20 years.
Salehi said he followed legal advice without properly understanding what he was agreeing to and submitted his former lawyer failed to properly investigate his claim to have blacked out while he was killing his victims. He further submitted his disease or medication might have led him to act out of control and impulsively at the time of the killings.
Appeal court Justice David Harris said Salehi at sentencing called expert evidence about his Parkinson’s disease in an effort to reduce the period of ineligibility for parole.
“At no time leading up to the sentence hearing, or during it, did he cast any doubt on the validity of his guilty pleas,” Harris said. “Rather, at the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, the applicant explicitly acknowledged his guilt, saying ‘I’m guilty and know that I am guilty.’”
Harris said nothing presented to him indicated Parkinson’s disease could be grounds for a not-criminally-responsible finding on account of a mental disorder defence.
“I can see nothing in them that suggests that a person suffering from Parkinson’s disease would act in a manner that could attract such a defence,” Harris said.