VANCOUVER — The mother of a 13-year-old girl found dead in a British Columbia park six years ago has told a murder trial how she gave her a last hug, hours before the girl's death.
Testifying for a second day at the B.C. Supreme Court trial of Ibrahim Ali, the Chinese mother said through tears that she didn't know it would be their "final farewell."
Ali has pleaded not guilty to murdering the girl, whose body was found in Burnaby's Central Park in the early hours of July 19, 2017, just hours after her mother reported her missing.
Neither the mother nor her daughter can be named under the terms of a publication ban.
Speaking through a Mandarin interpreter on Thursday, the mother recounted her memory of what happened the day the girl died.
She said her daughter went to summer school the morning of July 18. After the girl returned home, the mother said she prepared lunch and they ate together.
She said she then invited her daughter to go to a friend's farm in Langley together, but the girl declined and decided to stay behind.
She testified that she left the farm around 8 p.m., making the 40-50 minute drive back to Burnaby.
On the way, the mother said she tried to call her daughter several times to request she meet her at the car to help her bring items from the car into the apartment. The calls went unanswered.
"I was concerned why it was so late (and) why did she not answer my phone (call)," she said, noting she would have expected her daughter to be at home when she got there.
Once she parked the car, her mother said she rushed to their unit. She was confronted with a dark apartment, she testified.
She said she checked all the bedrooms, calling out the girl's name, and then noticed her daughter's jogging shoes were missing from the laundry room.
She said she repeatedly texted and called her daughter over the next several hours, leaving voice mails and messages urging her to get in touch.
"I was very scared," she told the court.
She said it was "very unusual" for her daughter not to respond to her texts and phone calls.
Judge Lance Bernard told the jury they would be ending the day early at the mother's request.
Direct examination is expected to conclude Friday morning, which will be followed by cross-examination from Ali's defence.
Earlier Thursday, the mother had testified that her daughter was in a good mood in the weeks leading up to her death because she was on summer break and a friend from China would soon be visiting.
She also testified she had an agreement with her daughter that the girl would not go into Central Park, located nearby their apartment complex, after dark.
Crown attorney Isobel Keeley said at the start of the trial that the court would hear evidence showing the girl's killing was random, but that DNA results would prove Ali sexually assaulted her.
She said the evidence would show the girl was passing through the 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 Aug. 24, 2023.
Brieanna Charlebois, The Canadian Press