MONTREAL - A Quebec man who pleaded guilty to fatally stabbing his unborn child will have a legal aid lawyer study his attempt to withdraw his plea.
Sofiane Ghazi was back in court Tuesday and told the judge he'd been unable to hire a lawyer himself, so Quebec Superior Court Justice Jean-Francois Buffoni called on legal aid to act as a "friend of the court" to assist him.
Ghazi, 39, suddenly pleaded guilty on Sept. 5 — the second day of his jury trial — to reduced charges of second-degree murder of the infant boy and aggravated assault against his wife in a July 24, 2017 attack.
He had initially faced charges of first-degree murder and attempted murder.
The woman survived the attack, but the child, delivered by emergency C-section at the hospital, had a heartbeat for several minutes before succumbing to his injuries.
But when he returned for the sentencing phase less than two weeks later, Ghazi abruptly fired his attorneys and said he wanted to withdraw his guilty pleas.
On Tuesday, a legal aid lawyer said she will study the file and let the court know what she'll do next when the case resumes on Oct. 24.
In an agreed statement of facts, Ghazi admitted to stabbing his wife 19 times with a carving fork — 12 times on the left side of her stomach and seven times in the upper left thigh.
Of those, nine wounds were inflicted on the child in the womb — known as Baby Ghazi in court documents — and observed after his birth.
Second-degree murder comes with an automatic life sentence, with a minimum of 10 years to be served before becoming eligible for parole.