The man charged in the 2011 murder of Armstrong teen Taylor Van Diest is scheduled for a March 12 court date to enter a guilty plea, according to court documents.
Matthew Foerster has been charged with first degree murder, though the plea he’s scheduled to enter at a Vernon court date later this month is expected to be for a lesser charge.
Taylor’s mother, Marie Van Diest said she met with Crown counsel and was told that they were moving forward with a deal for Foerster to plead guilty to second degree murder.
“We’re very frustrated. We all know what he did,” said Van Diest. “To us, it will always be first degree.”
A sentence related to the lesser plea can vary, but Van Diest has been told that there have been assurances that Foerster will be sentenced for nothing less than 17 years in prison.
The plea deal will save the courts a three to four week trial, which was scheduled to start May 28, but that’s of no consolation to the Van Diests.
“Our justice system needs fixing. Victims and victims families have no control,” she said, adding that sentencing is too weak for those who commit crimes of this level.
Van Diest once spoke at a round table with the Minister of Justice and told her family’s story. At the time a bill to increase the minimum sentence for first degree murder from 25 years to 40 years was being mulled over.
Whether that will happen remains to be seen, but she said something needs to be done.
“Everyone is screaming for change,” she said. “It has to come.”
Taylor Van Diest was assaulted Halloween night 2011, and died in Kelowna General Hospital the next day.
Foerster was convicted on the charge in 2014 but the B.C. Court of Appeal granted him a retrial in March 2017.
He was granted a retrial due to two errors in the trial judge’s 2014 charge to the jury that may have affected their decision to find Foerster guilty of first degree murder, not a lesser charge.
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