WARNING: This story contains graphic language and material. Reader discretion is advised.
A Toronto neurosurgeon on trial for killing his physician wife has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Monday.
Dr. Mohammed Shamji had been charged with first-degree murder and committing an indignity to human remains in the death of Dr. Elana Fric-Shamji, the mother of his three children.
Shamji entered the plea at a Toronto courthouse, days before jury selection was scheduled to begin Wednesday and the trial was slated to start Monday.
WATCH: Domestic abuse survivor shares story, message. Caryn Lieberman reports.
Court heard Shamji was fighting with his wife, who had filed for divorce two days prior, when he choked her to death on Nov. 30, 2016.
“The marriage was volatile and dysfunctional” for months, the court heard, and Shamji was resisting his wife’s attempts to separate. Fric-Shamji had initiated divorce proceedings numerous times since May of 2016.
At some point, Fric-Shamji began an affair with a fellow doctor, and her husband found out about it, court heard. Shamji then continued to try and change his wife’s mind about getting a divorce, the Crown said.
On the night of her death, the couple was fighting in their bedroom when the noise woke up one of their children who heard banging, her mom scream and then silence, the court heard.
“Mohammed struck Elana multiple times, causing her significant blunt force injuries all over her body, including a broken neck and broken ribs,” the crown said.
“After the killing, Mohammed packed his wife’s body in a suitcase and drove about 35 kilometres north of the city and dumped the suitcase in the Humber River.” A passerby located the suitcase on Dec. 1, 2016.
In the days that followed, court heard Shamji carried on a normal routine, including performing surgeries. He lied to everyone about his wife’s whereabouts, including attempting to plant “evidence (phone messages) calculated to point the finger at his wife’s lover,” the crown said.
LISTEN: Alan Carter speaks with Catherine McDonald about the Mohammed Shamji case.
Shamji was arrested on Dec. 2, 2016.
Prior to his arrest, Shamji worked at Toronto Western Hospital and was a faculty member at the University of Toronto.
He and his wife both had advanced degrees in addition to their medical qualifications.
Fric-Shamji had a master’s degree in public policy from Duke University, according to a biography in a research paper she published.
Her death sparked an outpouring of grief from those who knew her. She was described as a talented professional who helped improve the health-care system.
After court adjourned, the lawyer for the Fric-Shamji family, Jean DeMarco said the family was both “satisfied” and “pleased” with the plea.
Shamji’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 8.
— With files from The Canadian Press and Catherine McDonald