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Dr. Tracy Pickett death puts sex-assault testimony in limbo at Burnaby murder trial

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Lance Bernard told the jury at the Ibrahim Ali murder trial Tuesday that he will have to make a decision on Pickett's testimony since she didn't complete it before her death in September.

The testimony of a sexual assault expert is in limbo at a Burnaby murder trial after her death last month.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Lance Bernard addressed the jury at the trial of Ibrahim Ali Tuesday for the first time since police found the body of Dr. Tracy Pickett in Vancouver’s Southlands neighbourhood on Sept. 28.   

“You will recall that on your last court date, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, we could not proceed with the continuing cross examination of Dr. Pickett,” Bernard said. “On that day, Dr. Pickett did not attend court as expected, and the reason for her not attending was not yet known. Sadly, later that same day, Dr. Pickett was found deceased, the circumstances of which did not give the police reason to suspect foul play.”

Because Pickett had not concluded her testimony, Bernard said he will have to decide how to deal with the matter after hearing submissions from Crown and defence.

“Once I have decided the matter, I will give you an in-trial instruction,” Bernard said. “Meanwhile, I must instruct you not to speculate about this matter and not to conduct your own research.”

Bernard told the jury the trial will continue as planned unless they hear something to the contrary from him.

Ali is on trial for first-degree murder in the death of the girl, whose body was found in Central Park on July 19, 2017, less than two hours after her family reported her missing at about 11 p.m. on July 18, 2017.

Ali has pleaded not guilty.

The girl cannot be identified because of a publication ban.

The trial continued Tuesday, with testimony from a manager at the Tim Hortons where the teen was last seen.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor