Taylor excited for Halloween

Taylor Van Diest was on her way to a friend’s house where a group was meeting up on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating, but she never showed up.

That testimony was heard Thursday morning during Matthew Foerster’s first-degree murder trial in Kelowna. Foerster has admitted to causing the injuries that ultimately killed her, but has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge.

Clay Valstar told the court he had been texting Taylor and another mutual friend all afternoon about their plans for the night, right up until 6 p.m. on the night she was attacked.

In the 30 minutes prior, almost one dozen text messages were exchanged between the two and read aloud in court. They were both getting excited about the night ahead and texting about when Taylor would arrive at Valstar’s home. The final message he received was sent at exactly 6 p.m. and asked if their mutual friend had arrived.

Valstar says his phone died at that point, and when recharged he sent three more text messages between 6:24 and 6:51 p.m. but none were returned. At first he believed he had been stood up, but soon became worried when Taylor failed to respond to the multiple messages.

He and others contacted Taylor’s mom and then met her and RCMP Cst. Milan Ilic at the train tracks between Rosedale Avenue and Pleasant Valley Road, having already learned that was where the cell phone had been located.

Together they all walked down the tracks until they heard screams coming from others up ahead. Having surmised that Taylor had been found, they all ran towards the sounds.

“I saw Taylor face down in the ditch,” said Valstar, adding that he noticed blood near her body as he lay down his coat on top of her.

When asked if he touched her body, Valstar believed that he had, saying he grabbed her arm and lifted it a bit.

“I remember hearing grunts. Twitching and grunts.”

As Crown Prosecutor Iain Currie led Valstar through the text messages of that night, he began to tear up on the stand. Currie asked if he needed some time, but Valstar continued his testimony.

Under cross examination from defence counsel Lisa Helps, Valstar admitted that his first concern was that Taylor had fallen or slipped on the tracks, noting that it had been slick out that night.

He also told the court about noting the metal pipe under Taylor’s body and asking the police later on if they had tried to lift any fingerprints.

The other witness to take the stand was Liam Brown, the boy who found Taylor’s cell phone. He told the court that he and some friends were walking along the tracks – one friend using the flashlight on his phone – when he noticed it between the rails.

Wanting to return the phone to its rightful owner, Brown looked through the contacts and called Taylor’s home. After returning the cell phone they later ran into Marie Van Diest and Cst. Ilic on the tracks just before Taylor was discovered.

It’s anticipated the jury will see video of Foerster’s confession to police following his arrest in April 2012 in the immediate future.

The trial continues this afternoon.

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