The brother of a 13-year-old girl who was found dead in a Burnaby, B.C., park six years ago says he spoke to his sister via the messaging app WeChat just hours before their mother reported her missing.
The man, who cannot be identified under the terms of a publication ban, told the B.C. Supreme Court jury he was 11 years older than the girl and had been working as a teacher in Beijing at the time of her death.
He says he and his sister exchanged their final messages at about 7:15 p.m. on July 18, 2017.
The victim’s brother testified that the girl had texted him in a mixture of English and Mandarin about which Harry Potter house he would choose and his clothing size.
The teen’s body was found in Burnaby’s Central Park in the early hours of July 19, at which point her brother says he booked a flight back to B.C.
The defendant, Ibrahim Ali, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder earlier this year.
The victim’s brother also testified Tuesday that he first learned of his sister’s disappearance from their concerned mother, which prompted him to reach out to the girl, urging her to get in touch.
He said he and his sister would typically talk about once a week.
He told court he visited his sister and their mother at their Burnaby apartment in February that year, but the last time he saw the girl was over a video call a few weeks before she died.
“She seemed normal. She seemed happy,” he told the jury during direct examination Tuesday when asked about her demeanour on the call.
“She was smiling, she was laughing. Her tone was happy,” he said.
Crown attorney Isobel Keeley said in an opening statement that the court would hear evidence showing the girl’s killing was random, but that DNA results would prove Ali sexually assaulted her.
She said the evidence would show the girl was passing through a neighbourhood park when she was dragged off a pathway into the forest by Ali, sexually assaulted and strangled.
The defence has not yet told the jury its theory of events.
Direct examination of the girl’s brother is set to continue on Wednesday.