SINGAPORE: A man went on trial on Tuesday (Feb 16) for murdering his co-tenant by stabbing his heart with a knife after a purported argument about money.
Mohammad Rosli Abdul Rahim, 51, is accused of murdering 35-year-old Mohammad Roslan Zaini at about 4.30am on Aug 16, 2017 in their shared flat at Block 165A, Teck Whye Crescent.
The prosecution's case is that Rosli stabbed Mr Roslan's chest with a knife, penetrating his breastbone and causing a stab wound of up to 13cm, after arguments about rent and utility bills.
Mr Roslan had also purportedly insulted Rosli's mother and ended a relationship with a woman Rosli had considered his sister.
After being stabbed, Mr Roslan struggled down the stairs and collapsed on a grass patch in front of the block.
Deputy Public Prosecutors Yang Ziliang and Zhou Yang told the court in their opening statement that Rosli was homeless in late 2016 and was sleeping at void decks in Bukit Batok.
He later moved to sleeping outside an acquaintance's flat in Block 165A, Teck Whye Crescent. Sometime later, Mr Roslan approached Rosli and suggested that they co-rent Mr Roslan's flat.
They registered their names with the Housing and Development Board as co-tenants and agreed to split the monthly rent.
Despite having a roof over his head, Rosli began suspecting in August 2017 that Mr Roslan was overcharging him for his share of the monthly rent.
At the same time, Mr Roslan had ended his relationship with a married woman who Rosli regarded as a sister and had known for more than 10 years.
The relationship soured after the woman fractured her knee but Mr Roslan did not take her to hospital. Instead, her husband tended to her.
When Rosli visited the woman, she complained to him about her unhappiness with his flatmate. Rosli then told her he was unhappy over the rent and wanted to stop sharing the flat with Mr Roslan.
THE MORNING OF THE INCIDENT
At about 1am on Aug 16, 2017, a few guests went to Rosli and Mr Roslan's flat to watch a movie. However, Mr Roslan began arguing with Rosli at about 4am.
They quarrelled about rent payments and utility bills, while two of the guests were still in the flat. Angered, Rosli walked to the kitchen, where he picked up a kitchen knife with a 17cm-long blade, said prosecutor Mr Yang.
He allegedly went to the living room and stabbed Mr Roslan with such force that the blade penetrated the breastbone and perforated a ventricle in his heart.
Mr Roslan tried to fend off the attack, said Mr Yang, but received multiple wounds on his arm and thigh. The two guests fled the unit, hiding at a stairwell and in another flat.
Mr Roslan struggled down four storeys of stairs and collapsed on a grass patch in front of the block. A bus driver who was on his way to work saw him covered in blood and coughing before he dropped his head on the grass.
She called the police and waited for them to arrive. Paramedics could not find Mr Roslan's pulse and pronounced him dead at 4.55am, while the police followed the trail of blood that ended up in the flat.
Rosli had already returned to the flat, closed the gate and door, and cleaned up - washing the knife in the sink and cleaning the blood stains with a piece of cloth - said Mr Yang.
After this, he left the flat with bags of clothes, personal belongings and drugs, avoiding the police by taking the stairs.
He was arrested later that day at another block in the area.
An autopsy on Mr Roslan found three stab wounds to his body, with the wound to the heart causing his death.
IMH DOCTOR FOUND HIM FIT TO PLEAD
Rosli was assessed by the Institute of Mental Health and found to be fit to plead and not of unsound mind at the time of the offence. He admitted to the doctor that he had taken nitrazepam around the time of the offence, but the doctor found that this had not significantly influenced his mental state.
In accounts to the doctor, Rosli said: "I thought he would never die. I wanted to teach him a lesson. I did not intend to kill him."
Separately, he told the police that he wanted to use the knife to hurt Mr Roslan as "I was angry with him (for) cursing my mother", and that he lost his patience reasoning with him.
"I only wanted to injure him to teach him a lesson. I have no intention to kill him," he repeated.
The prosecution will lead with evidence from 56 witnesses in the trial, while Rosli is represented by a team of lawyers led by Mr Anand Nalachandran.
If convicted of murder, Rosli could either be sentenced to death or imprisoned for life. He cannot be caned as he is 51.