Trial for accused in Marrisa Shen murder to begin in April
Ibrahim Ali is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 13-year old Shen
13-year-old Marrisa Shen was found dead in Burnaby’s Central Park in 2017. IHIT
After years of delays, the trial for the man accused of murdering Burnaby teenager Marrisa Shen is due to begin next month.
The BC Prosecution Service told Burnaby Beacon in an emailed statement that jury selection for Ibrahim Ali’s trial began Friday morning.
The trial is scheduled to begin on April 3 and is expected to run through to June 30.
“It is anticipated that the time between now and the start date will be sufficient to accommodate jury selection and remaining pre-trial matters,” BC Prosecution Service spokesperson Dan McLaughlin wrote in an email.
Ali’s trial has faced five delays since its original start date of September 2020.
Jury selection was cancelled at that time and the trial postponed to September 2021—then, to accommodate pre-trial applications, it was set over again until January 2022, then later pushed to September 2022.
McLaughlin said last year that a further delay to January 2023 was necessary to accommodate “various pre-trial applications”, which are under a publication ban and cannot be reported on.
Shen, who was 13 years old when she died, was reported missing by her parents after she failed to return home from a walk on July 18, 2017.
She was found dead in Burnaby’s Central Park in the early hours of July 19.
Friends from Moscrop Secondary School, where she was a student, remember Shen as a creative girl who loved anime and had a knack for clothing design.
“She would watch an anime, would fall in love with one of the characters, and would spend hours designing their actual clothes and then trying to make them in real life,” classmate Emma C told the Beacon near the anniversary of Shen’s death in 2021.
“She spent all of her allowance on that, to the point where she basically almost had nothing to eat at lunch because she spent all her money on fabric.”
Her death became one of the highest profile cases ever investigated by the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, which at one point said it had identified more than 2,000 persons of interest.
Ali was arrested and charged with Shen’s death in September of 2018, more than a year later. Police wouldn’t say at the time what evidence led them to Ali.
The case came under further controversy after the Burnaby Now reported the RCMP may have used a “DNA dragnet“, asking Middle Eastern men from across the Lower Mainland to provide DNA samples to rule them out as suspects.
The Now reported that “numerous Middle Eastern men living in the Lower Mainland—some of whom came to Canada to escape persecution in totalitarian regime—were called up seemingly randomly and asked to provide voluntary DNA samples in relation to the killing.”
That report prompted criticisms from civil liberties groups over concerns of racial profiling, coercion, the targeting of vulnerable populations, and the storing of DNA samples.