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Trial postponed again for man accused of killing of B.C. teen Marrisa Shen

Click to play video: 'Trial of accused killer of Marrisa Shen delayed for fifth time'
Trial of accused killer of Marrisa Shen delayed for fifth time
The trial of the man accused of killing Burnaby teenager Marrisa Shen has been postponed yet again, the fifth delay in more than four years. Rumina Daya reports. – Jan 6, 2023

The trial date for the man accused of killing a 13-year-old Burnaby girl more than five years ago has been postponed once again.

Ibrahim Ali is charged with first-degree murder in the 2017 slaying of Marrisa Shen, whose body was found in Central Park in July that year.

The BC Prosecution Service confirmed Friday he will not appear before a jury on Jan. 16, as scheduled, as pre-trial applications are ongoing.

“A new date for jury selection and trial has not yet been determined,” wrote communications counsel Dan McLaughlin by email.

Shen’s murder shattered her family, friends and community, and left some questioning the safety of their neighbourhood near Central Park.

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The teen was last seen leaving home around 6 p.m. on July 18, 2017. Her body was found in the park about seven hours later.

Ali of Burnaby — a Syrian refugee with no previous criminal record — was charged nearly 14 months later. A controversial “DNA dragnet” technique was used to indicate a suspect of Middle Eastern descent, and DNA samples were taken from several men in the Lower Mainland.

Click to play video: 'Supporters of Shen family and Syrian community clash outside B.C. courthouse'
Supporters of Shen family and Syrian community clash outside B.C. courthouse

Ali’s previous court appearances have drawn crowds of supporters and protesters, which at times have become heated.

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His trial was set to begin in September 2020 and postponed to September 2021 after jury selection was cancelled. A third trial date was set in January 2022 to accommodate pre-trial applications, but due to the volume of applications, jury selection was rescheduled to begin in September.

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Another postponement had the trial date set for Jan. 16.

According to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, any person charged with an offence has the right to be tried within a reasonable timeframe.

Kyla Lee, a Vancouver criminal lawyer with no connection to the Ali case, said a judge determines whether postponements or adjournments are appropriate.

“One of the things that goes into determining whether four years is too long is looking the various reasons why there have been delays or adjournments, whether they’ve been because of legitimate actions taken by either the Crown or defence,” she explained.

“Particularly in a case like this with a high-profile incident that has had a big impact in the community, it’s important those cases be resolved in a timely fashion.”

A defendant can waive his or her right to be tried in a reasonable timeframe, Lee added. The reasonable timeframe measure is in place to protect both the rights of the accused and all those impacted, she said.

Editor’s Note: This is a corrected story. A previous version stated that Shen was last seen entering an apartment around 6 p.m. on July 18, 2017. In fact, she was last seen leaving her home around that time.

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