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St. Clair Shores

July 23, 2014

Man who shot daughter-in-law's brother convicted of murder

Quick verdict finds Shaholli guilty

By Kristyne E. Demske
C & G Staff Writer

MOUNT CLEMENS — After years of competency hearings, psychological examinations, delays and four days of testimony, it only took a jury nine minutes to convict Viktor Shaholli of shooting and killing the 29-year-old brother of his daughter-in-law in 2011.

Viktor Shaholli, who turns 65 July 24, was convicted on charges of first degree murder, which carries a penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole, and a 2-year felony firearms charge for shooting 29-year-old Dashamir Matjani Nov. 20, 2011, in a home in the 23000 block of Recreation with a shotgun. Matjani died from his injuries the same day at McLaren Macomb Hospital in Mount Clemens.

During testimony July 17, Macomb County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Daniel Spitz that that the shotgun bullet grazed the back of Matjani’s tricep before entering the right side of his chest, scattering nine .32 caliber buckshot pellets through his body.

“As a result of those projectiles coursing through the body, there were a variety of injuries,” Spitz said. “There was extensive bleeding within the chest cavity and the abdominal cavity.”

Spitz said that, as a result of his investigation, he believed “it was a single shot with the projectile striking the arm and continuing into the chest.”

“This jury was very attentive to the evidence that was being presented, I think that had a lot to do with it,” said St. Clair Shores Police Detective Sgt. Jay Cohoe July 22. “There’s no winner. This tragedy has divided this family not only on this continent but another continent, and the lasting effects are going to live on.”

In November 2011, Ermira Shaholli — Matjani’s sister and Viktor Shaholli’s daughter-in-law — said she and her husband, Arjan Shaholli, were about to move out of the large Shaholli family home on Hoffman Street to a home of their own on Recreation Street. The Shahollis immigrated from Albania and had helped other friends and relatives, including Matjani, to come to the U.S.

Ermira Shaholli said that Viktor Shaholli had wanted all of his sons and grandchildren to grow together in the Hoffman home, but when the economy took a turn for the worse, the bank foreclosed on the house. The family owned a masonry company, Viktor and Sons, and so Arjan Shaholli, his brother and other family members were renovating the home on Recreation Street for Ermira and Arjan Shaholli’s family.

Ermira Shaholli testified July 17 that Viktor Shaholli told her to keep track of everything they were spending to fix the home so that they could recoup their money when they sold the home again to move back to Hoffman.

“I told him, we’re not selling the house,” she said. “We’re going to keep the house, we’re going to live there.”

But she said Viktor Shaholli had hoped to get the Hoffman house back from the bank and got mad and screamed at her when he learned that she and Arjan Shaholli never planned to move back.

“After I told him that … it changed a lot. He was always mad at me, he never came to help us with the house,” Ermira Shaholli said.

On Nov. 20, 2011, Ermira Shaholli said many relatives were at the house on Recreation Street helping to get it ready for them to move in; the entire family had to move out of the Hoffman house a few days later. She had taken her sons back to the house on Hoffman when she received a phone call from a relative telling her that something had happened and she needed to come back to Recreation.

“I see lots of people, lots of police cars, fire trucks,” she testified, adding that she saw her brother’s foot dangling from a stretcher as he was wheeled into an ambulance. “I was like, ‘What happened to my brother?’ No one was giving me any answers.”

She rushed to the hospital to find her brother and, once there, called Viktor Shaholli to ask what had happened.

“He told me that he did it so my family would never talk to me for the rest of my life and would hate me for the rest of my life,” she said tearfully while on the stand. “And I told him we’re going to get through this, me and my family, but you’re going to die alone and no one will come to see you and take care of you and I hang up after that.

“I was upset, I was shocked, I couldn’t even believe what was happening. I was surprised that I was still standing there. My brother was the most important thing in my life, I couldn’t choose between him and my boys.”

Ermira Shaholli said Viktor Shaholli was mentally abusive to her and had also acted that way toward his deceased wife, as well, but she denied that he was mentally unstable, explaining that if he was, she would have never trusted him with her money — as the family all did, per Albanian custom — or the care of her children.

The defense tried to show that Viktor Shaholli was not competent to stand trial and put expert witnesses on the stand who said he suffered from vascular dementia and depression since the death of his wife in 2010. But expert witnesses put forth by the prosecution said that Viktor Shaholli was malingering, or being untruthful about his mental state, and that answers he had given to standardized tests showed more wrong answers than could have been accounted for just by chance.

On July 18, Viktor Shaholli took the stand, speaking through a translator.

The haggard-looking defendant testified that he did not know where he was, other than “a big room,” and that he didn’t know what was being said.

He testified that he didn’t know what charges had been laid against him or even who Matjani is.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, I never took nobody’s life,” he said through the translator.

But Prosecutor Steve Fox asked the defendant why he didn’t understand now when, back in 2012, he told psychological evaluators that he understood he violated the law and that he did something wrong.

“I don’t know who said that. I don’t say such things,” Viktor Shaholli said. “When did I say that? I don’t remember that. Why do you say that?”

Basri Sulolli, Viktor Shaholli’s first cousin, told the court that the defendant called him after the shooting.

“He told me, he said, ‘I shot Ellie’s brother,’” Sulolli said, explaining that was their nickname for Ermira Shaholli. “He told me, ‘Would you meet me in parking lot of St. Clair Shores Police Department, I need a translator.’”

And when Sulolli asked his cousin why he had shot Matjani, Viktor Shaholli told him it was because Matjani “swore on us.”

Viktor Shaholli will be sentenced Sept. 9 in front of Judge Mary Chrzanowski.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Kristyne E. Demske at kdemske@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1041.