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Strangulation led to 13-year-old Burnaby girl's death, murder trial hears

After an autopsy, forensic pathologist Dr. Jason Morin concluded a 13-year-old girl found dead in a Burnaby park in July 19, 2017 died because of strangulation.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Jason Morin leaves the Vancouver Law Courts Monday.

Advisory: This story includes disturbing details about a murder trial.

Strangulation led to the death of a 13-year-old girl found dead in a Burnaby park six years ago, according to a doctor who examined her body the day after she was found.

Dr. Jason Morin, a forensic pathologist at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg, testified at the trial of Ibrahim Ali Monday.

Ali is on trial for first-degree murder in the death of the girl, whose body was found in Burnaby’s Central Park at 1:14 a.m. on July 19, 2017, less than two hours after her family reported her missing.

Ali has pleaded not guilty.

The victim’s identity is protected by a publication ban.

After conducting a four-hour autopsy on July 20, 2017 at Vancouver General Hospital and taking into account a toxicology report and a neuropathology report, Morin told the jury his opinion was the girl died because she was strangled.

“I came to the conclusion that (she) died secondary to strangulation,” Morin told the jury.

Neuropathologist Stephen Yip had testified earlier in the trial the victim had suffered brain damage at a microscopic level (hypoxic ischemia) caused by lack of oxygen or blood flow.

When asked what he meant by strangulation, Morin said there had been “some sort of external compression on the neck” restricting oxygen and blood supply.

Morin also said he observed petechiae, tiny pinpoints of bleeding under the skin, on the victim's face, under her chin and in her eyes.

During his autopsy, Morin said he also found other injuries, including tearing within the vagina and anus and bruising within the walls of the rectum.

Swabs taken of those areas identified sperm, he said.

The autopsy also revealed multiple small skin scrapes, skin tears and bruises to the back top of the victim’s head, as well as a number of other scattered additional skin scrapes, skin tears and bruises on her face, arms and legs.

“The book does contain some difficult photographs,” Crown prosecutor Isobel Keeley told the jury before taking them through a booklet of photos of the autopsy.

The Crown's theory, which has not been proven, is that Ali attacked the 13-year-old in Central Park, dragged her into the forest and strangled her to death while sexually assaulting her.

Morin's testimony, including cross-examination, continues Tuesday.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor