The man accused of first-degree murder in the death of a Burnaby teen almost six years ago pleaded not guilty to the charge in Vancouver Supreme Court Wednesday.
The teen cannot be identified because of a publication ban.
She was reported missing in July 2017, and her body was found less than two hours later in Burnaby’s Central Park.
Police described her killing as a random attack.
Ibrahim Ali, a newcomer to Canada with no criminal record, was charged with first-degree murder in her death more than a year later, on Sept. 8, 2018.
His jury trial began Wednesday after years of postponements.
After a number of pretrial matters, Ali, through a Kurdish-speaking interpreter, was asked to plead guilty or not guilty.
"I did not kill (the victim)," he said.
Justice Lance Bernard asked Ali twice whether he was pleading guilty or not guilty.
"I did not kill (the victim)," Ali repeated twice more.
Bernard said he would take that to mean Ali was entering a not-guilty plea, and Ali agreed.
In Bernard’s instructions to the 14-member jury that followed, he urged jurors not to let unconscious biases about personal characteristics colour their judgment.
“You must make a conscious effort to resist and to help other jurors resist jumping to conclusions based, for example, on race, ethnicity, religion or gender,” he said.
The jury was dismissed for the day before the lunch break and will return Thursday morning.
More pre-trial matters took up the rest of the afternoon.
The trial is expected to last through the end of June.