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Webcam murder case

The fate of a man accused in the death of a York University student from China is expected to be in a jury's hands later today.

Brian Dickson, 32, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, but his lawyer has urged the jury to find Dickson guilty of manslaughter.

His lawyer acknowledges Dickson sexually assaulted Qian Liu, but says his client didn't mean to kill her.

Liu, 23, had been chatting via webcam with her ex-boyfriend in China in the early morning hours of April 15, 2011, when he saw a man force his way into Liu's room and knock her down.

Dickson's lawyer says the evidence fits with a scenario of Dickson sitting on Liu's chest with her neck cricked while he was "sexually excited."

The Crown argues that Dickson — who was a tenant in the same building — forced himself on Liu, which is what the ex-boyfriend witnessed via webcam, then killed her to cover it up.

The ex-boyfriend, Xian Meng, testified that after the sound of two muffled bangs he said he heard no more sounds from Liu. After a period of silence he heard the man breathing heavily and moments later the man appeared naked in front of the webcam and turned off the computer, Meng testified.

Liu was found dead mostly naked and face down on the floor of her off-campus basement apartment.

An earring was missing from one ear, her nightgown was rolled up to her chest and her underwear and tights were in the corner of the room. Semen was found on her thigh and groin and a bodily fluid likely either semen or saliva was on her breasts.

The semen, which a forensic biologist testified matched Mr. Dickson's DNA to an astronomical probability, was not deposited on Liu until after she was dead, the Crown suggested.

One forensic pathologist concluded Liu's cause of death was unascertained, though mechanical asphyxiation — which could include neck or chest compression — was the best overall explanation.

A second forensic pathologist definitively concluded it was mechanical asphyxiation and said the evidence does not fit with Nuttall's chest-sitting scenario.

The Canadian Press

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