West Kelowna  

Man accused of murdering partner couldn't form intent: defence

Killer had jealous delusions

The man accused of murdering his partner in a West Kelowna hotel room in the summer of 2018 “drove himself crazy” with jealousy, and was unable to form the intent to murder, according to his defence lawyer.

The second-degree murder trial for Tejwant Danjou was restarted Tuesday, after a two and a half month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the beginning of the trial back in late February, Danjou admitted to killing his partner, Rama Guaravarapu, going so far as to plead guilty. He then withdrew his plea, after claiming he never intended to kill her – an essential element of murder.

Tuesday, defence counsel Donna Turko opened her submissions by arguing Danjou was unable to form the intent to murder when he killed his partner Rama Guaravarapu on the night of July 22, 2018.

“He became delusional about Ms. Guaravarapu having relationships with other men. It tormented him,” she said.

“In addition to what appeared to be severe jealousy, Mr. Danjou, in our submission, was mentally unwell. We've heard it from the victim herself, words to the effect of 'you're crazy,' 'your head's not working.' We heard these in the tape recordings the Crown played for the court.”

If Justice Alison Beames is convinced Danjou could not have formed the intent to kill, Danjou could instead be convicted of manslaughter.

Forensic psychiatrist Todd Tomita interviewed Danjou for a total of six hours while Danjou was incarcerated at the Okanagan Correctional Centre. Tuesday morning, Tomita testified he believed Danjou suffered from a delusional disorder of the jealous type, that caused him to believe "implausible" things about his partner. Tomita added these delusions were compounded with alcohol use disorder, narcissistic personality traits and dissociative amnesia that has led him to forget the events that happened on the night of Guaravarapu's death.

“A delusion is by definition, a false, fixed idea that's held with subjective certainty,” Tomita testified Tuesday. “If that idea is influencing someone's interpretation of events, then it can affect their decision making in a way that they're not making decisions on objective, consensual reality. They're making it based on their delusional interpretation of what is occurring.”

One example Tomita gave of Danjou's delusions was a story Danjou told him about a flight the couple had taken to Las Vegas in May 2018, two months before Guaravarapu's death. Danjou told Tomita that Guaravarapu had “deliberately hiked her dress up” while seated on the plane, and allowed the man sitting next to her to “flirt and fondle her” throughout the flight. As a result, Danjou was irate for the duration of the trip.

“He told me that he took a video of this as evidence that it happened ... I understand the video showed essentially nothing,” Tomita said. 

Danjou also reported another May 2018 incident, in which he felt Guaravarapu had looked at his friend with “endearing eyes,” causing Danjou to get upset, leading to another fight.

Even after his arrest for murder, Danjou remained adamant that Guaravarapu had been cheating on him and that his actions were somehow justified.

“He told me that his wife was having an affair,” Const. Rick Goodwin testified back in March. “He told me there was crucial evidence in a Ford truck that was in Surrey. He wanted investigators to get the evidence.”

Over two weeks of the judge-alone trial back in March, the Crown showed how Danjou and Guaravarapu's relationship had been deteriorating for several months leading up to her death. Police were called to the couple's Surrey home for an alleged assault on the evening of May 25, 2018, but no charges were laid at the time.

A close friend of Guaravarapu said that Guaravarapu had played a recording of Danjou from one of the couple's fights, in which Danjou said that if he couldn't have her, he would kill her.

The couple had come to the Okanagan for a wine-touring vacation on July 21, 2018, and spent the next day drinking wine at Mission Hill Winery, where they got into a fight. Later that night, a West Kelowna Best Western employee responded to a noise complaint in the couple's room. Danjou calmly opened the door to the employee, as Guaravarapu lay behind him, badly injured. Police were called, but Guaravarapu succumbed to her injuries. Danjou was found hiding in a nearby dumpster.

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