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Pathologist took swabs of B.C. teen’s neck to preserve DNA of alleged attacker

Ibrahim Ali on trial for murder in the case of teenage girl found strangled in a Burnaby park
A forensic pathologist in the B.C. Supreme Court trial of a man accused of the murder of a 13-year-old Burnaby, B.C., girl has testified the teenager died by strangulation. Media wait outside B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday, June 2, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy on the body of a 13-year-old found dead in a Burnaby, B.C., park nearly six years ago says he took swabs of the girl’s neck to preserve any DNA that may have been left by her alleged attacker.

Dr. Jason Morin said under cross-examination by Ibrahim Ali’s defence lawyer that he took the swabs because the girl appeared to have been strangled.

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 reported her missing.

Morin previously told the jury that the autopsy determined the girl died after being strangled, which had caused blood vessels in her eyes and face to burst.

The Crown questioned Morin about the steps he took in his autopsy, including where he had taken swabs, but Ali’s lawyer Ben Lynskey homed in on the swabs to her neck.

Ali last month pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the trial in British Columbia Supreme Court.

The circumstances of the case inform where swabs are taken, Morin told the jury.

“We do the swabs because there’s a chance that the evidence transfer happened,” he said when asked about the neck swabs during cross-examination Wednesday.

“We’re essentially looking for transfer of DNA from someone else on the body to be able to place that person somehow involved (with) that body. How they were involved with that body just depends on the rest of the investigation,” he said.

Content warning: material that some may find disturbing follows.

Morin also conducted DNA swabs of the girl’s genitals, mouth and breasts as police had informed him that she may have been the victim of a sexual assault, he said.

He told the jury during direct examination by the Crown this week that sperm was found in the girl’s body.

He also identified a number of injuries, including bruising, scraping and tearing on the back of her head, as well as to her face, arms and legs, Morin said.

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.

The defense has not yet told the jury its theory of events.

—Brieanna Charlebois, The Canadian Press

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