Ontario man on trial for killing his mother takes the stand: ‘I lost it’

Click to play video: 'Son on trial for 2nd-degree murder of Toronto mother testifies in his own defence'
Son on trial for 2nd-degree murder of Toronto mother testifies in his own defence
Dallas Ly took the stand in his own defence at his second-degree murder trial. He testified he never meant to kill his mother, Tien Ly, but she attacked him, and he 'saw red.' Catherine McDonald reports – May 8, 2024

Warning: This story contains graphic and disturbing descriptions. Discretion is strongly advised. 

Dallas Ly spoke quietly recalling how since the age of six, his mother Tien Le was physically abusive towards him when he would get poor grades and engage in bad behaviour.

“Over time, it escalated with tools, spanking on the bottom and strikes across the face. She always told me that I was a stupid kid. I grew up in Canada unlike her. I had a lot of opportunities. I was supposed to be a good and successful child and if I kept this up, I wouldn’t amount to anything,” said Ly testifying in his defence at his second-degree murder trial.

On the night of March 27, 2022, Dallas said his mother returned home from the nail salon she owned to the Carlaw Ave. condominium where they lived, the then-21-year-old announced he was moving out to live with his aunt. Before asking what happened that night, his lawyer, Jessyca Greenwood asked “Did you mean to kill your mom?” Dallas responded, “No, absolutely not.”

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Dallas explained his mother paused, had a serious look on her face, seemed angry and then started shouting. Greenwood asked Dallas what his mother said. He testified in Vietnamese, yelling out the way she did. Greenwood said, “What did that mean?” Dallas translated, “Where do you think you’re going? You owe me $25K in rent. If you’re going to live with your aunt, I’m going to kill her and you.”

He told the jury he thought she would be happy about him moving out, not having to worry about him anymore, and was shocked and surprised she was so upset. Dallas said he disengaged and went back to his bedroom to find his bag full of clothes. He said his mother was still yelling in the front foyer. “Come here right now, and if you don’t come here right now, I’m going to beat you to death,” he said repeating the words he said his mother used.

Dallas said his mother continued her outburst with: “You haven’t paid me back. I brought your aunt here from Vietnam.” Then he said she told him: “I hope I see you on Yonge Street hungry and homeless. When you go to your grave, I’m not going to come visit you. I hope the two of you die.”

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He then recalled how his mother began attacking him, throwing her fists, then punching toward his jaw. Dallas said they weren’t life threatening injuries, but he dropped the bag he was carrying, which included some camping supplies and a hunting knife, and dropped to his knees as he tried to cover himself up.

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He said as his mother continued screaming in Vietnamese, “If you leave, I’m going to kill you and your aunt.” He believed she was telling the truth. “I started seeing red. Before I knew it, I lost it, I started to swing at her. One of the swings did catch and landed in the middle of her neck. She stopped, rolled over and fell to the ground. When she collapsed, I was still holding onto the knife and I fell alongside with her,” he said quietly.

Dallas testified he left his knife there and went to the washroom to wash the blood off his hands, before going back to his bedroom where he listened to music for a couple of hours, trying to zone out. He said it didn’t feel like it was real. He tried calling her but she didn’t answer.

“I began to realize what happened, really did happen,” he explained saying he started panicking. “I had to get rid of it. Initially, I thought it was best to cut her into small pieces but I started with her head since most of it was already off to begin with. By the time I finished, I felt too sick. I didn’t have strength to keep doing it, so I decided to package it and transport it out.”

Dallas said he tried to wipe down the apartment, threw out his mother’s jacket and searched online for a place to take the body. Using a shopping cart, he exited the building and headed to Tommy Thompson Park. He said, at one point, the buggy hit a curb, causing him to drop the buggy and blood spilled out. “I realized I was so wrong. I couldn’t keep going no more, so I tried to cover it up on the side of the road and went back home.”

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He told the jury he thought the only thing left was to leave the country. He packed his bags, his keys, identification and passport and went to Pearson Airport but was unable to leave. After spending a day-and-a-half at the airport, he went to Niagara Falls to cross the border but was again rejected. From there, he travelled to Hamilton and stayed at a motel for a night before ending up at the Salvation Army.

Dallas also testified about messaging a number of his friends. “They were goodbye messages. I felt like I was at the end of the road. I wanted to say my last farewells to them.” He explained he called one friend and asked if he could go to his house because he didn’t know what to do at that point.

He said when his friends responded to his messages, he felt they still believed he was a good person and didn’t see any of his faults. “It was kind of them. They still cared about me.”

Greenwood asked Dallas about his background. He told the court he only finished grade 11 and struggled in school. His mother also told him after his father left them, when he was 11, she told him his father had passed away in Vietnam after associating with bad people. Dallas said he only learned that his father was still alive when he found out his father had been interviewed by police.

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Dallas admitted there had been some good times with his mother, when she took him on a trip to Niagara Falls and to Vietnam to see her family. But he recalled most of his life being physically disciplined for bad grades and bad behaviour. “She would strike me over the back with certain tools, sometimes her own fist,” saying the tool she primarily used was a backscratcher. Other times she would use shoehorns, slippers or throw bowls. Greenwood asked when this type of discipline from his mother ended. Dallas replied, “It never ended”.

Dallas also said he had red dots and scars on his back from being struck and was made to wear that same clothes at home with blood stains on the back. The jury was shown a photograph of Dallas’ back.

Dallas Ly has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. His testimony in chief continues.

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