Consistent Uncertainties

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Hamilton Accused Had Assaulted Wife Previously

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Witness claims wife had sought refuge in women's shelter prior to murder.

THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR-Barbara Brown

Stabbing victim Muruwet Tuncer had been in Canada only a few months when she fled her husband’s wrath and took refuge with her two children in a Hamilton shelter for battered women.

Speaking with the assistance of a Turkish interpreter, the slain woman’s younger sister, Evren Cosgun, told a Superior Court judge and jury yesterday that Tuncer’s estranged husband, Cengiz Isiko, “was throwing her belongings right and left and saying bad things … in his usual style.”

“She went to my other sister Munevver’s first and then she went to the shelter, Interval House,” Cosgun said.

“At the time, she was pregnant again and she lost the baby, but whether it was because of the beating, I wouldn’t know.”

Isiko, 40, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the Jan. 28, 2009 death of Tuncer, 41, who was stabbed 17 times, including a fatal slash to her neck that left a gaping wound.

He also pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of Tuncer’s 13-year-old niece, Rumeysa Cosgun, who was stabbed repeatedly after she answered a knock at the front door and let Isiko into their Elkwood Drive home on the west Mountain.

Tuncer, who has three children from a previous marriage, met Isiko in France when she was divorcing her first husband. Isiko assisted Tuncer with translation and interpreting services. The two began a relationship and had a son, who was born in France. The couple entered Canada in 2005 as refugee claimants, along with their son and Tuncer’s youngest daughter from her earlier relationship.

Cosgun, Rumeysa’s mother, said her sister told her Isiko had assaulted her while they were still living in France, but that police there did not appear to take her complaints seriously.

On Dec. 20, 2006, Isiko pleaded guilty in a Hamilton courtroom to an assault on Tuncer while they were separated and she was living with the children on Upper Wellington Street. Isiko came to the door of her townhome and got into an argument with Tuncer. He struck her in the face with his fist and open hand, leaving her badly bruised.

Isiko was placed on probation for two years and ordered not to come within 500 metres of Tuncer without her written permission.

The couple reconciled briefly while Isiko was on probation, but separated again and Tuncer rescinded her permission for him to contact her, unless it was to arrange his parental access to their then-four-year-old son.

Under questioning from defence lawyer Charles Spettigue, Cosgun acknowledged that Isiko did appear to love and care for his son.

Spettigue suggested that whenever Tuncer was angry or upset with Isiko, she would threaten to take away his access to the boy.

“No. I never heard anything of the kind,” Cosgun said.

“May I say something?” she then asked Justice Barry Matheson. “What she was saying to me was that in order to save her life, as soon as (the boy) grew a little more, got a little bit older, she would give — not only access rights but custody rights, so that she could escape from him (Isiko).

“Furthermore, she told me, ‘I wish there was a woman in his life, so I could escape from him.’ I used to hear her say these things,” Cosgun said.

The trial continues.

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