UPDATE 12:00 P.M. by Wayne Moore
Matthew Foerster will spend at least the next 25 years behind bars.
Foerster was found guilty Saturday of first-degree murder in the death of Armstrong teen Taylor Van Diest.
With the verdict, Foerster was handed an automatic sentence of life in prison with no eligibility of parole for 25 years.
Crown Prosecutor, Iain Currie also asked that Foerster be banned from owning firearms for life and submit a sample for the DNA data base. Judge Peter Rogers agreed with the requests.
Foerster showed no emotion when the verdict was read and, through his lawyer, declined an opportunity to speak on his behalf.
"The fact he chose not to speak, speaks volumes in how cowardly, dysfunctional and deviant this individual is," stated an emotional Marie Van Diest, outside the Courthouse after the verdict was rendered.
"I think he is just a coward. He needs to be put away and not have that behaviour exist ever again from him."
Marie called the day gratifying, saying the wait was difficult but worth it.
"At least now no other girl will meet the same fate that she met," says Marie Van Diest.
"We are just happy that animal is going to be off the streets for a very long time. Not long enough for me but that will suffice for now."
She added a person never completely heals when something like this happens to their family.
"There's never closure because we'll never have Taylor back."
Taylor's father, Raymond Van Diest says the verdict was like a weight being lifted.
"Justice is served," he says.
"(But) with something like this...never let your daughters walk alone. Sisters, mothers, anybody, never be alone."
He says something like this could happen anywhere, to anybody.
"You hear people say 'that will never happen here'. It happens anywhere and everywhere," says Raymond Van Diest.
"Even in a small little town like Armstrong, probably in a small little town like Enderby. There always seem to be somebody like this out there somewhere."
Marie also spoke of a need for the scales of justice in Canada to start swinging back towards the rights of the victim and not just the accused.
She pointed to the fact that her family had to wait over a year for justice to be served.
"Trials can be delayed because of changes of lawyers through legal aid. In my mind I think they should be appointed one lawyer and lets proceed that way," says Marie.
"This trial was delayed almost a year because of the change of lawyers. That's not right. That needs to change. We had to agonize for over a year waiting for our day in court."
Neither lawyer spoke to reporters after the verdict.
No word on whether Foerster will appeal his conviction.
-- Wayne Moore
UPDATE 11:45 A.M. SATURDAY APRIL 5
A verdict has been reached in Matthew Foerster's first degree murder trial and the jury is returning to the Kelowna Courthouse to issue their verdict any moment.
We will have the jury's verdict as soon as the information becomes available.
The jury in Matthew Foerster’s first-degree murder trial has been sequestered until they can reach a unanimous verdict.
Justice Peter Rogers gave his final instructions to the jury Friday morning. They began their deliberations around 12 p.m.
He explained that Foerster does not have to prove his innocence, and it was up to the Crown to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Foerster’s video interview with police was one of the most important pieces of evidence shown to the court. In it he tells police he was looking for sex and approached Taylor Van Diest on Halloween night 2011.
He also admitted to consuming alcohol and ‘weed’, which Rogers inferred to be marijuana, and told police he pushed Van Diest to the ground and told her to keep quiet but she wouldn’t listen.
Rogers went on to tell the jury that the transcript provided was only to be used as an aid, and that the recording itself was the evidence. He also made a special point, telling the jury to pay attention to the demeanor of Foerster and everyone else in the video.
But stressed that Matthew had no duty to say anything or answer any questions, and his silence during certain parts of the video prove nothing.
The main part of Rogers' charge to the jury had to do with Foerster’s intent at the time and whether he meant to cause her death or knew the injuries he inflicted would lead to her death. Furthermore, the jury will also have to decide whether the Crown proved that he killed her while committing a sexual assault, or attempting to commit a sexual assault – which would mean a conviction of first-degree murder.
Rogers also pointed out once again that there was no physical evidence of a sexual assault, only the Crown’s theory of what was taking place at the time of the attack and Foerster’s own admission that he had been looking for sex.
Castanet will have complete coverage of the decision once a verdict has been reached.