Pathologist in B.C. murder trial says he's not certain where teenage girl was killed
VANCOUVER — The forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy on the body of a 13-year-old girl found dead in a Burnaby, B.C., park says he can't be certain she was killed where the body was found.
Dr. Jason Morin told the British Columbia Supreme Court jury under cross-examination that the teen, who cannot be identified under the terms of a publication ban, had many relatively minor injuries on her head and knees.
Ben Lynskey, Ibrahim Ali's defence lawyer, questioned Morin about the nature of injuries found on places other than the girl's genitals, including scrapes on her knees, as well as dirt found on her skin. He also asked whether she may have been dragged or had perhaps fallen on her knees in an unrelated incident.
Morin said the girl's body wasn't moved after post-death "lividity" set in, which involves blood pooling and discoloration of the skin.
Her body was found in Burnaby's Central Park in July 2017, just hours after her mother reported her missing.
Ali last month pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.
Morin previously told the jury in the British Columbia Supreme Court trial that his autopsy determined the girl died after being strangled, which had caused blood vessels in her eyes and face to burst.
He said again Tuesday during cross-examination that he was "confident" it was strangulation that caused the girl's death.
"I'm relying on the facts and the findings in the case for me to come to the conclusion that strangulation was the cause of death," Morin said.
Content warning: material that some may find disturbing follows.
Morin told the jury during direct examination by the Crown last week that sperm was found in the girl's body.
He said under cross-examination Tuesday it would be "unexpected" to find a mass of fluid in a body if the person had stood up, though he couldn't provide any expert opinion on the specifics.
"A fluid would be subject to the laws of gravity just like anything else," he said.
Morin said he did not measure the amount of fluid at the time of autopsy.
Lynskey said that meant the pathologist was "completely guessing" about how much was found, something he said was potentially significant to the case.
Crown attorney Isobel Keeley said in an opening statement that the court would hear evidence showing the murder was random, but DNA results would prove Ali sexually assaulted the girl.
She said the evidence would show the girl was passing through a neighbourhood park when she was dragged off a pathway into the forest by Ali, sexually assaulted and strangled.
The defence has not yet told the jury its theory of events.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 23, 2023.
Darryl Greer, The Canadian Press