No Justice for Murder Victim Anne Widholm, No Peace for Innocent Victims

With no new trial date, accused murderer Habibullah Ahmadi now eligible to walk free.

On June 5, Ontario courts planned to set a new trial date for Habibullah Ahmadi, charged with the murder of Anne Widholm in Windsor, Ontario, in October of 2017. Like past trial dates for the murder defendant, this one is proving difficult to verify.

Last week Ontario courts found no mention of Habibullah Ahmadi and at this writing an email inquiry to the provincial attorney general remains unanswered. In similar style, the attorney for Habibullah Ahmadi failed to respond to voice and email inquiries. So did the radio station that provided the only photo of Anne Widholm. The 75-year-old grandmother was a victim of a savage beating that left multiple brain hemorrhages, fractured vertebrae and skull fractures, “among the most brutal things I’ve seen in my career,”  Dr. Balraj Jhawar told the Windsor Star.

A Windsor Star reporter says the COVID-19 emergency has put trials on hold and pushed the scheduling date into July. A June 20 Star report confirms that trials are in fact taking place in Ontario, so the claim is open to reasonable doubt. In the more likely scenario, Habibullah Ahmadi is now walking free.

Under the Canadian Supreme Court’s 2016 Jordan decision, if a trial for an indictable offence hasn’t concluded within 30 months, the defense can apply to have the criminal charges tossed. The deadline for the accused murderer had been April, 2020, and two months later no new trial date was set for Habibullah Ahmadi, whose booking photo never appeared.

He was described as a “Windsor man,” also known as “Danny,” and 21 years old at the time of the crime. The accused made no public statements and nothing from any relative, friend, fellow student or work colleague appeared in local media. This stood in stark contrast to other murder cases in the city, and even juvenile defendants got more publicity.

Anne Widholm’s autopsy was never made public and details of the attack came from Dr. Jhawar, not police, courts, or media reports. The critically injured Widholm lapsed into a coma and died on December 15, 2018. The charges against Habibullah Ahmadi were then upgraded to second-degree murder, but the trial reportedly slated for January, 2019, did not take place.

On November 25, 2019 a Windsor Star report claimed a preliminary hearing ended two months earlier in Ontario Court of Justice, but news stories provided no testimony or evidence from the hearing, the name of the judge, the plea the accused entered. Also missing was any discussion of Habibullah Ahmadi’s possible motive for attacking Anne Widholm.

The murder trial was then set to begin on March 16, 2020, in nearby Chatham, but the trial never happened. April marked 30 months with no trial, and a new date for a trial has yet to appear. On the other hand, at least some of the writing is already on the wall.

In Canada, a man of 21 such as Habibullah Ahmadi can attack and kill a 75-year-old grandmother such as Anne Widholm and gain complete protection from publicity. In Canada, a man like Habibullah Ahmadi can also expect courts to keep key proceedings secret. In such cases, news reports come across as government press releases, with the investigative instinct little in evidence.

Though not legally authorized, any observer could be forgiven for believing that in Canada murder is at least permissible under certain circumstances, with only the lightest punishment. Consider the case that wrapped last week.

Cheng Sun, 54, bludgeoned to death his wife Weiquiong Du-San, who suffered 33 hammer wounds including 29 on her head and face. The killer described himself as a “murderer” but wound up charged with manslaughter. Sun drew a sentence of  nine years but with an “enhanced credit” of 54 months for the 36 months he spent in custody, Sun will serve only four and a half years.

Should Habibullah Ahmadi ever come to trial, he could expect similar leniency. But if anybody thought the “Windsor man” also known as “Danny” will never come to trial it would be hard to blame them. Anne Widholm, meanwhile, is both gone and forgotten.

She was murdered by a man in a brutal attack but feminists did not denounce the killing as toxic masculinity, or an example of violence against women. Then-Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who has often spoken out on bullying, offered no statement. The case has also escaped the notice of current Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In Canada, the worst violent criminals enjoy more rights and protections than innocent victims out for a walk after church on a Sunday morning. As they say, no justice no peace.

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