VANCOUVER — The judge in the first-degree murder trial of Ibrahim Ali, who is accused of killing a Burnaby, B.C., teenager six years ago, has told the jury to completely disregard the testimony of a witness who died before the end of her cross-examination.
Dr. Tracy Pickett, a sexual assault expert called by the Crown, had not finished testifying when she was found dead on Sept. 28.
Justice Lance Bernard has instructed the jury to disregard Pickett's testimony and to resist all speculation or research into her death.
He says Pickett's unexpected death significantly curtailed cross-examination by defence lawyers and his instructions to the jury recognize the importance of cross-examination as a cornerstone of the adversarial justice system.
Bernard told the jury that Pickett's death and its circumstances are not relevant to their deliberations and the trial will continue in B.C. Supreme Court as though she had never testified.
Ali has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder for the death of a 13-year-old girl, whose name has been protected by a publication ban.
The girl's body was found in a Burnaby, B.C., park in July 2017, hours after her mother reported her missing.
Crown attorney Isobel Keeley told the court during her opening statement in April that evidence would show the teen was walking through the park when she was dragged off a pathway into the forest, then sexually assaulted and strangled.
Keeley said cellphone and bank records prove Ali was in Burnaby that day, while DNA results would prove he sexually assaulted the girl.
Bernard told the jury last month that when Pickett didn't show up to finish her cross-examination, the court wasn't aware that she had died.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 7, 2023.
The Canadian Press