Coping with murder

Five years after the death of Armstrong teenager Taylor Van Diest, her family is still trying to cope with her loss and the aftermath of a trial that sent her killer to prison for life.

Taylor Van Diest, 18, was found near death along some train tracks in Armstrong, north of Vernon, on Halloween night in 2011.

Matthew Foerster, 33, was convicted of first-degree murder in April 2014 and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

“It is difficult waiting on a decision for the appeal,” said Marie Van Diest, Taylor's mom. “To have it back up in the air is so frustrating.”

In June, Foerster's lawyer appealed the Cherryville man's sentence, alleging that the trial judge made mistakes in his instructions to the Kelowna jury around intoxication and on the attempted sexual assault as an element of first-degree murder.

The appeal judges have yet to release a ruling.

Meanwhile, the Van Diest family has decided to hold one final memorial walk for Taylor on Nov. 1 in Armstrong.

“We have found that the numbers attending were dwindling,” Van Diest said of the annual event.

Armstrong Mayor Chris Pieper paid tribute to the Van Diests for their efforts in increasing the safety of a trail near their home where Taylor was fatally beaten on Halloween night in 2011. It is now called the Taylor Van Diest Memorial Trail.

“The work of the Van Diest family has been incredible,” said Pieper. “It is by far the nicest trail in Armstrong.

“It is paved, has a fence, it is lit by solar lights and is dedicated to Taylor.”

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