Van Diest family observes killer’s appeal

VERNON – It was another difficult day in court for Taylor Van Diest’s family.

The Armstrong teen was attacked in October 2011 while walking to Halloween celebrations and later died from her injuries.

Friday her family gathered at the Vernon court house to watch her killer’s appeal in a Vancouver court room.

Matthew Foerster is appealing his first degree murder conviction. His lawyers argued Friday that mistakes were made at trial.

One of their arguments is that the trial judge erred while giving instructions to the jury about the issue of attempted sexual assault.

That’s significant because if the trial jury found there was an attempted sexual assault, that made the offense first degree murder rather than a lesser charge.

Read More: Appeal in Van Diest murder conviction to be heard Friday

Crown counsel argued Friday that there was no problem with the judge’s instructions on this point.

The crown argues that Foerster’s lawyers were parsing the judge’s words too closely rather than looking at the judge’s overall charge to the jury.

Foerster is currently serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years. If his appeal is successful, his lawyers are asking for a new trial.

“Crown counsel did a phenomenal job the first time around and I’m just as confident that we would walk away with another first degree conviction,” said Taylor Van Diest’s mother Marie Van Diest.

For the family the process of going back over Taylor’s death and the trial of her killer is not easy.

Friday’s hearing came on the eve of what would have been Taylor and her twin sister Kirstie’s 23rd birthday.

“It’s difficult. The timing was really dreadful, but we are hoping to make up for it tomorrow and make sure Kirstie has a great day,” said Marie Van Diest.

While the hearing is over, it could be months before a ruling is made.

The appeal hearing was held in the Lower Mainland. However, at the request of the Van Diest family, the court took the unusual step of also live streaming the proceedings to a court room in Vernon so it would be easier for the family to observe.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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