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Slain girl's T-shirt introduced as evidence at Burnaby murder trial

A T-shirt taken from the body of a 13-year-old girl found dead at Central Park more than six years ago was presented to the jury at the Ibrahim Ali murder trial this week.
The T-shirt worn by a girl found dead in a Burnaby park in 2017.

A T-shirt taken from the body of a 13-year-old girl found dead at a Burnaby park more than six years ago was introduced into evidence at the trial of her accused killer this week.

Security video from a Metrotown Tim Hortons showed the young teen wearing the distinctive black T-shirt, emblazoned on the front with a Nike swoosh and rainbow colours, on July 18, 2017, the day she went missing.

She was still wearing it when police found her lifeless body in the forest in Central Park a few hours later, but the shirt and her sports bra had been pulled up, exposing one of her breasts, according to police witnesses.

The T-shirt has spent most of the last six years in a police evidence locker since being removed from the girl’s body during an autopsy on Sept. 20, 2017.

On Wednesday, however, Sgt. Mike Lim, crime scene manager and exhibit officer in the case, pulled it out of a police evidence bag in court and showed it to jurors at the trial of Ibrahim Ali.

Ali has been charged with first-degree murder in the girl's death.

He has pleaded not guilty.

The girl cannot be identified because of a publication ban.

The jury had seen numerous photos and video images of the young teen's T-shirt, and Lim’s only reason for producing the garment itself in court appeared to be to determine the size of a hole under the left armpit area.

Crown prosecutor Isobel Keeley had asked him how large the hole was, but Lim said he hadn't measured it.

After pulling out the shirt and holding it up for the jury, he examined the shirt and estimated the hole was about the size of two toonies.

It is the only piece of crime-scene evidence besides photos to be introduced at the trial so far.

Later, under cross-examination, Lim said the Crown had asked him sometime after Sept. 28, 2023 to bring the shirt to court.

As exhibit officer, Lim said his job involved handling, processing and tracking police evidence throughout the case, including evidence from the crime scene, autopsy samples, a discarded cigarette butt from Ali in August 2018, a blood sample from Ali collected by police in September 2018, and other evidence.

Crown prosecutor Isobel Keeley questioned Lim about various exhibits, including the T-shirt and the girl's jean shorts and underwear.

Lim said he had seen what appeared to be blood stains on the shorts and underwear, and the clothing had been sent to the RCMP lab for testing.

But the items were never analyzed, according to DNA expert Christine Crossman, who testified earlier in the trial.

She said the lab didn't test the clothing because an unknown male profile (later determined to be Ali's) had already been identified on swabs taken from the girl's anal and genital area.

Lim said it wasn't up to him to decide which items were tested.

He said that was up to the leaders of the investigation, and testing would have to have been approved by the RCMP lab's forensic assessment centre.

The Crown's theory is that Ali and the girl were strangers to one another and that he attacked her on a trail in Central Park, dragged her into the forest and strangled her to death while sexually assaulting her.

The defence has not outlined its theory but has suggested the killer and whoever had sex with the young teen — "either forced sex or sex" — are not the same people.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor
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