“Taylor Van Diest caught her own killer.”
Those words were part of Iain Currie’s initial remarks to the jury during closing submissions in Matthew Foerster’s first-degree murder trial at the Kelowna Courthouse Thursday morning.
Foerster’s defence counsel Lisa Jean Helps chose not to call any evidence or put her client on the stand, leading Currie to begin and end his submissions before the noon break.
In explaining how Taylor caught her killer, Currie pointed out that all evidence from the scene had been carefully and methodically tidied up by Foerster; everything but that one piece of crucial evidence taken from underneath one of her fingernails – Foerster’s unmistakable DNA.
Currie told the jury that this was a tell tale sign of a careful killer – someone who left behind no weapon and no other trace of evidence at the scene.
The main point he tried to hammer home during his closing submissions to the jury was that Foerster’s plan all along was to find a sexual experience any way he could that Halloween night. That meant even going so far as to sexually assault a young 18-year-old girl along some secluded railroad tracks in 2011.
Taylor’s first text, warning that something was wrong, was sent to her boyfriend at 6:01 p.m. saying that she was being creeped on. She tried to send another text 38 seconds later, but it was never sent and became saved in the draft folder of her phone.
“That tells you an awful lot; it was sudden. Whatever caused her to drop her phone happened suddenly,” said Currie.
“Whoever was following her had a creepy intention.”
Currie inferred from this phone evidence that Taylor recognized she might be in danger and before she could text or call for help, she was caught so suddenly that she dropped her phone.
The Crown’s submission was that Foerster came up from behind her with a shoelace ready to wrap around her throat, thus causing the ligature marks found on her neck. This must have happened before the blows to her head from the Maglite (large industrial metal flashlight) said Currie, because Dr. John Stefanelli testified that she had scratch marks that he concluded were from Taylor trying to claw at whatever was choking her.
Given that Taylor was still alive while she was being strangled, Currie submits that he committed to kill her at this point because it was after this that he smashed her in the head numerous times with the flashlight.
Currie also questioned why Foerster had a flashlight in the first place. The attack happened just after 6 p.m. and officers who tested the environment and lighting conditions a few days later noted that it was not dark enough by that time to require a light.
“He was approaching behind her in a way that made her nervous,” noted Currie.
“He was approaching her with a sexual intent.”
Foerster had told police during his interrogation video that he had been out looking for sex that night, and evidence presented during the trial demonstrated that the railroad tracks where the attack occurred made for a vulnerable spot.
Although only two witnesses at the trial testified to hearing screams that night, Currie pointed out this made sense for a sexual assault theory. Foerster attacked her, and then silenced her when she fought back, and then killed her – all part of a carefully executed plan.
The court heard earlier testimony about defensive wounds in the form of bruises and fractures to Taylor’s hands and arms. It was estimated that between 60-75 pounds of force was used in the attack to Taylor’s head. She was hit at least six times and testimony said any one of the blows could have killed her.
“The only plausible motive was sexual,” Currie told the jury.
He followed that up by then asking the jury what other motive Foerster could have for walking up behind her on the railroad tracks with a dark coat, heavy flashlight and shoelace at hand.
“An assault to facilitate a sexual assault is still a sexual assault.”
He then submitted to the jury that if they can accept that Foerster had the intention of forcing himself on Taylor, then it was a sexual assault.
The question of intoxication was also brought up by Currie during his closing submissions. He told the jury that at no point during Foerster’s interview with police does he ever blame what happened on the amount of alcohol he consumed that night, nor does he ever talk about how drunk he was.
Currie also noted that Foerster never said that he didn’t mean to kill her during his interview with police, only that he regrets the incident and that he feels bad for her family.
Throughout Currie’s submissions, Foerster sat in the prisoner’s box with the same sad expression hanging on his face, forever looking to be on the verge of tears, but never any tears streaming down his face.
Defence counsel Lisa Helps will submit her closing remarks this afternoon.