The trial of a Langley man accused of killing three family members began Tuesday with a recording of a non-emergency police call that turned into a plea for help.
Kia Ebrahimian appeared in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster to answer three charges of second-degree murder in the deaths of his sibling, Befrin Ebrahimian, their mother, Tatiana Bazyar, and Bazyar’s common-law husband, Francesco Zangrilli, who were discovered dead on June 13, 2020, after a fire was extinguished in the house they shared in the 19600-block of Wakefield Drive.
Crown prosecutor Michael Fortino said Kia and Befrin – whom Fortino described as a “transgender man who had completed gender reassignment surgery” – had been clashing since Kia moved back into the Langley house with his other family members in the spring of 2020.
“I just want to warn everyone in the court, that what they’re about to hear is fairly distressing,” Fortino said.
It was not the first time Zangrilli had called the non-emergency line for police assistance, because of what the Crown called “name-calling” by the siblings.
Police had already been by, on June 5. And Bazyar and Zangrilli had to take time off work on June 9 because of the conflict between the siblings.
This time, as Zangrilli was on the line, he suddenly called for help, and a female voice could be heard screaming in the background. A fire alarm started ringing.
Police were dispatched and arrived to find a fire was beginning to spread inside the house.
Officers forced their way in, and were able to retrieve Zangrilli, who had suffered several stab wounds and could not be revived. The two other victims were not recovered until after the fire was extinguished.
Kia, who was on the second floor of the house, was helped down by neighbours, with the assistance of a ladder.
Later, police seized two knives from Kia that tests showed had DNA from Befrin and Zangrilli.
All three victims died from what the Crown prosecutor Sonya Bertrand described in opening remarks as “sharp force injuries.”
“A large part of the Crown’s case has been admitted,” Bertrand said.
At issue, she added, is whether Kia was a “rational actor, who was able to form the intent of murder.”
Eighteen witnesses will be called by the prosecution, including two RCMP officers, Kia’s former landlord, and Befrin’s girlfriend – who is expected to testify about text messages from Befrin about his fights with his brother, that the Crown said will establish “motive, animus, and state of mind.”
The trial is scheduled to run until Oct. 14.
As the trial got under way before Justice Murray Blok, who is hearing the case without a jury, the judge expressed concern about the state of the heavily-medicated Kia, who had trouble saying “not guilty” when the charges were read to him.
“It does cause me to be cautious,” Justice Blok remarked.
Defence counsel Donna Turko said Kia wanted to proceed with the trial.
“The medication does make him groggy, and does make him tired,” Turko told the court, but her client was able to follow the proceedings.
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