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Man charged in killing of 13-year-old Burnaby girl found guilty of 1st-degree murder

A court sketch depicts Ibrahim Ali, who was charged with first-degree murder in the death of a 13-year-old Burnaby girl. (Felicity Don - image credit)
A court sketch depicts Ibrahim Ali, who was charged with first-degree murder in the death of a 13-year-old Burnaby girl. (Felicity Don - image credit)

WARNING: This story contains details of sexual violence.

Ibrahim Ali, the man charged with the first-degree murder of a 13-year-old girl in Burnaby, B.C., has been found guilty by a Supreme Court jury.

The jury came back with its decision minutes after asking the judge to clarify the differences between first- and second-degree murder and manslaughter.

Justice Lance Bernard told them murder would mean Ali deliberately caused the girl's death or meant to cause her bodily harm and knew that this was likely to cause death.

Bernard said it would qualify as first-degree murder if it happened while Ali committed or attempted to commit a sexual assault against the girl, whose name is protected by a publication ban.

Ali had little reaction to the verdict and those in the packed courtroom were quiet as the verdict was read out.

He pleaded not guilty when the extensive trial began in April.

Crown prosecutors told the jury the victim, whose name is protected by a publication ban, was passing through Burnaby Central Park on July 18, 2017, when she was attacked and dragged into the woods before she was sexually assaulted and strangled to death.

Ali was arrested over a year later on Sept. 7, 2018. His DNA was found inside the girl's body.

The jury heard from dozens of witnesses called by Crown prosecutors, including police officers, pathologists who studied her body and brain, DNA analysts, and the victim's friends and family.

The defence did not call any witnesses in the trial, with Ali's lawyer telling the jury that the Crown hadn't proved its case against Ali.

Later, outside the courthouse, members of the public who were in the courtroom expressed relief over the guilty verdict.

"We have a conclusion today that guilty is guilty," said LK Tam. "I'm very happy that the Canadian court has achieved justice."

"Justice has finally been served," said Burnaby resident Juan Mei. "The process has been too long. It's closure in terms of the procedure [but] the pain will never end."