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Friend, classmate of slain teen testifies at Burnaby murder trial

A friend and classmate of a teen found dead in Central Park nearly six years ago said the victim seemed normal at summer school the morning before her family reported her missing.

Less than 14 hours before a 13-year-old girl was found dead in a Burnaby park on July 19, 2017, a friend captured her on two cell phone videos, smiling during a fire drill at summer school.

That friend is now 19 years old, and the videos she took of the slain teen when the two were tweens on the cusp of entering Grade 9 together became evidence in a murder trial Thursday.

The young woman took the stand in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver at the trial of Ibrahim Ali, the man accused of first-degree murder in her friend’s death.

Ali has pleaded not-guilty.

The names of victim and witness are protected by a publication ban.

In the two short video clips shown to the jury, the victim is shown smiling in a group of students outside of her school during a fire drill.

“I feel I am the closest of friends with (her),” the witness told the jury through a Mandarin interpreter, after Crown prosecutor Isobel Keeley asked who of their school friend group was closest to the teen.

The woman testified from behind a screen so she would not see Ali.

She said she and her friend used to go shopping, swing on the swings at the park or do homework at the library – the witness helping her friend with math, and her friend helping the witness with English.

"We spent time every day," the witness said,

The witness said her friend loved walking in the park, listening to music, drawing and anime.

She said she had never seen her friend use alcohol or drugs, and she didn’t have a boyfriend or express any interest in having one.

When asked if her friend seemed “normal“ on the morning of July18, 2017, the last time she saw her, the witness said, “Yes.”   

She said she learned of her friend’s death the following day.

The woman’s testimony continues Friday.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor
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