Final arguments made in murder trial
“Taylor Van Diest caught her own killer.”
Those words opened Crown Counsel Iain Currie’s final submission in the murder trial for Cherryville man Matthew Foerster.
Currie argued that Foerster, 28, intended to sexually assault Van Diest, when he followed her down a pathway adjacent to the railway tracks Halloween 2011.
When she fought him off, Currie said, Foerster decided to kill her, delivering multiple blows to her head, thus meeting the requirement for a first degree murder conviction.
That story, he told jurors, came directly from Van Diest’s own hands.
“My submission to you is that the fingernail...it tells you, in respect to the attempted sex assault, that Taylor Van Deist fought back,” said Currie, referring to the blood Van Diest got under her nail when she scratched Foerster’s neck.
“It tells you, in respect to intention, that Taylor Van Diest’s killer was careful. He took the weapon away from the scene – he took everything away from the scene, but for the DNA in the nail bed of Taylor Van Diest’s finger…”
Van Diest also wrote about the events leading to her fatal interaction with Foerster in messages she sent to friends. Those words were entered into evidence throughout the two-week trial.
A prolific texter, the 18-year-old’s last message told friends she was being creeped then, just 38 seconds later, another message was composed, but never delivered. Her phone was found mere metres from where her body was later recovered.
“That tells you that it was sudden. Whatever happened to make Taylor Van Diest drop her phone, we know it was unexpected,” Currie said.
“That text message (says) she knew she was being followed… and that the person following her had a creepy intention.”
The message that sat in her phone’s queue read, “holly” and Currie told jurors that the meaning behind that word really wasn’t mysterious.
“You can reasonably conclude that she meant, ‘holy cow,’ ‘holy expletive,’ something was happening,” said Currie.
“She was being creeped and…whatever happened next was sudden, sufficiently unexpected and caught unaware so she dropped her phone.”
Then, Currie said, Foerster’s own evidence reinforces that tale.
Foerster admitted early in the trial that he caused the injuries that killed Van Diest, but he was less clear when it came to his intent.
Highlighting a confession that came out during Foerster’s post arrest interrogation, Currie said it was a, “good moral decision,” but evasiveness about specific details can simply be assigned to a desire to protect self image, and a lack of interest in reliving a “horrific” act.
“It’s my submission to you that all of that together, there’s only one conclusion that Mr. Foerster intended, when he walked behind Taylor Van Diest Halloween night 2011, he went there for a sexual assault,” he said.
When he took that flashlight and he battered Taylor Van Diest over the head, Currie said, he was intending to kill her.
“Everything that Taylor Van Diest’s killer did that day was purposeful,” he said. “The fingernail was the only variable that Mr. Foerster could not control.”
Currie also argued that the alcohol bottle that periodically appeared as evidence of intoxication was not something that should have been factored into the argument.
All the evidence presented indicated that Van Diest and Foerster never tread further north of the point where the teen was fatally attacked. That bottle, however, did.
Currie also noted Foerster’s actions after the attack, saying they didn’t really reflect mind-altered intoxication. The accused killer admitted during his interrogation he drove away from where he met Van Diest toward Lumby, but not before taking a stop in Vernon’s downtown to dump a Maglite, a shoelace and his black jacket.
Foerster’s defence lawyer Lisa Jean Helps, however, relied on the bottle to further a case for an intoxication argument. There was no DNA or fingerprints found on the bottle, but she said it was left by Foerster.
Helps said that the question lingering even with all the evidence presented was whether Foerster was intending to kill Van Diest when he hit her over the head multiple times.
“He did not,” she said.
Helps argued that painting Foerster as a sexual predator was an illogical argument. If he were looking to sexually attack someone, the pathway that Van Diest was fatally injured on would not be ideal, she explained.
A lot of people were nearby for the festivities at the IPE grounds, she said, and there were balconies that overlooked that pathway.
That spot, she reasoned, would not be where she’d go if she were a sexual predator.
She also took aim at the argument that Foerster subdued Van Diest for an attack with a shoe lace. Picking up one of the teen’s shoes that had been submitted into evidence, she said that the lace was too thick to match up with the marks on the teen’s neck.
Dress shoes, she said, had laces too thin.
She suggested that Van Diest’s bra had been pulled and left behind marks across her neck.
And the fatal wound on Van Diest’s skull, she argued, likely was a result of the teen stumbling over slippery railroad tracks and falling on her head.
As for context, Van Diest died after a pick-up gone awry, she explained to jurors.
Slowing down Currie’s timeline, Helps pointed out that Foerster said the two spoke that night. He may have been checking her out, and had “sex on the mind” but he wasn’t looking to assault the young woman, she reasoned.
“At the end of the day, we don’t know what happened between them,” she said. “She screamed, there was the infliction of injuries, he panicked and left.”
The jury will get directions from Justice Peter Rogers Friday morning and start their deliberations after that.