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DNA evidence takes centre stage at Burnaby murder trial

Thirteen exhibits from the body of a slain 13-year-old were examined by the RCMP's national forensic lab in Surrey, jury hears.
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DNA expert Christine Crossman retook the stand at the Ibrahim Ali murder trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver Monday.

Within two days of a slain 13-year-old girl being found in a Burnaby park, samples taken from her body were being examined for DNA at the RCMP National Forensic Laboratory in Surrey, the jury at a Burnaby murder trial heard this week.

Witness testimony continued in front of the jury at the B.C. Supreme Court trial of Ibrahim Ali in Vancouver Monday morning after a three-week adjournment.

Ali has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of the girl, whose body was found in Central Park in July 19, 2017.

The victim cannot be named because of a publication ban.

DNA expert Christine Crossman retook the stand Monday morning to continue her overview of what happens when swabs, clothing and other exhibits are sent to the RCMP lab for DNA analysis.

The lab analyzed 13 exhibits taken from the victim's body and one exhibit police indicated had come from a suspect in the case, according to Crossman.

Crown prosecutor Colleen Smith took Crossman through one document to show how the lab tracks exhibits from the time they are delivered until they are returned to police.

The document showed that, on July 21, 2017, an Integrated Homicide Investigation Team officer had delivered a swab taken from the 13-year-old girl’s body, according to Crossman.

Before being returned to police on Sept. 18, 2017, the swab had been sent for what Crossman called “differential analysis,” a process used for “internal swabs where semen may be present,” Crossman said.

Crossman, who wrote the report on the lab’s findings in the case, will retake the stand after several other witnesses from the lab testify.

Jeremy Fenn, a technologist at the RCMP lab and an expert at the identification of spermatozoa, is expected to take the stand Tuesday.

The Crown's theory is that Ali attacked the 13-year-old girl in Central Park, dragged her into the forest and strangled her during the course of sexually assaulting her.

In her opening statement, Crown prosecutor Isobel Keeley told the jury they would hear DNA evidence Ali’s sperm was found on swabs taken in the victim’s vagina and anus.

“Numerous witnesses will testify to their respective roles in the collection, continuity and testing of DNA-related exhibits,” Keeley told the jury last month.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor
Email cnaylor@burnabynow.com