Autopsy showed 13-year-old B.C. teen was strangled, pathologist tells murder trial

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VANCOUVER — A forensic pathologist testifying in the trial of a man accused of murdering a 13-year-old girl in Burnaby, B.C., said she died by strangulation.

Dr. Jason Morin, who conducted the autopsy, told the jury Monday that the four-hour procedure, in conjunction with a subsequent neuropathology report, showed there had been a lack of blood supply to the teen's brain.

The body of the girl, who cannot be identified under the terms of a publication ban, was found in Burnaby's Central Park in July 2017, just hours after her mother had reported her missing.

Ibrahim Ali last month pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the B.C. Supreme Court trial.

Content warning: material that some may find disturbing follows.

Morin told the jury he identified a number of other injuries to the girl's body, including bruising, scraping and tearing on the back of her head, as well as to her face, arms and legs.

He also testified that, during the autopsy, he identified lacerations inside her vagina, tears inside the anus and a bruise on the wall of the rectum. He then took swabs of each of these areas, which he examined under a microscope.

"I identified sperm," Morin told the court.

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 her.

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.

Morin said he conducted both internal and external examinations of the body.

"An autopsy isn't just about cause of death, it's also about documentation," he said.

The girl was 158 cm tall and 52 kg in weight, he said, adding that she "looked like a 13-year-old female as she had been identified."

He said leaves and twigs were found on her clothing and in her hair.

The girl was wearing a black T-shirt and black sports bra, which were pulled up, exposing her abdomen and her right breast, he said. Her blue jean shorts were pulled down and her underwear were only on her right leg.

The trial is expected to take about two months and will hear testimony from about 50 people, including civilians, police and expert witnesses, Keeley told the jury in opening statements on April 28.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 15, 2023.

Brieanna Charlebois, The Canadian Press