Warning: The following story contains graphic details.
The sister of murder victim Paul Prestbakmo sobbed in court Tuesday (Jan. 26) morning, as details of the fatal wounds inflicted on her brother 18 months ago were shared.
Of 42 stab wounds logged during an August 2019 autopsy, forensic pathologist Dr. Farshaad Bilimoria told the court, 18 penetrated Prestbakmo’s back, six were to his neck and another 15 were to his chest and abdomen. Three others were noted on his left extremity.
The largest of the wounds, Bilimoria testified, was 2.5 cm in length, and few of Prestbakmo’s organs were left unscathed – the weapon or weapons used hit his heart, lungs, liver and diaphragm. They also hit ribs on both his right and left side.
And while exactly how many knives were used that morning couldn’t be determined, the exam left no doubt as to the cause and mechanism of the 45-year-old’s death, Bilimoria said.
“Did anything other than stab wounds contribute to his death?” Crown counsel Stephanie Sfikas asked the pathologist.
“No,” Bilimoria replied.
Prestbakmo was found with fatal stab wounds just before 3:30 a.m. on Aug. 16, 2019, in a commercial parking lot in the southwest corner of 18 Avenue and 152 Street.
Two youths are being tried in Surrey Provincial Court on a charge of second-degree murder in connection with his killing. They are also each facing a charge of aggravated assault, in connection with an attack on a senior that occurred in the hours prior.
A ban prevents publication of their identities.
Angela Prestbakmo said she knew before Tuesday’s proceedings got underway that the details of her brother’s injuries would be difficult to hear, but felt an obligation to bear witness.
“It’s something I have to do,” she said outside court, explaining a desire to show support for her brother and family, as well as to learn exactly what happened.
“I’ve heard stories about how it all started… but I don’t know if there’s any truth to it,” she continued. “I’m just trying to understand.”
She added that she was hopeful the emotions the testimony evoked in her would stick with the accused.
The court also heard from RCMP digital-evidence specialist Const. Trevor Nicholson on Tuesday, on the analysis of an iPhone seized as part of the investigation.
Nicholson confirmed that accounts on the phone were linked to one of the accused, and that GPS and Global Navigational Satellite System data placed it in the area of the 15000-block of 19A Avenue, including on South mere Crescent, during the evening and morning hours in question, on Aug. 15 and 16, 2019.
He was also able to trace some of the phone’s movements, including that between 3:20 and 3:25 a.m. on Aug. 16, it moved from 18 Avenue and 152 Street onto Southmere Crescent and northwest to the 15000-block of 19A Avenue.
In response to questions from defense counsel Michael Klein, Nicholson confirmed that GPS data is not always “100 per cent accurate,” and can be impacted by such things as atmospheric conditions and the presence of high buildings, which can offset where the signal between the receiver and satellite lands.
Testimony Monday (Jan. 25) included that Prestbakmo’s DNA was found on shoes, a jacket and a curved knife that were seized during the police investigation.
DNA expert Cindy Lee – a civilian employee at the Surrey location of the RCMP National Forensics Laboratory Services – read the conclusions from six reports that she prepared regarding those and other exhibits.
Lee also confirmed that additional DNA found on some of the seized items included some that matched a sample from one of the two youths accused of killing Prestbakmo.
Klein questioned Lee on the sensitivity of the DNA testing, which the expert said required just “a very small amount” for analysis.
“It’s a very sensitive test,” she said.
In one sample, just 61.5 nanograms of DNA was analyzed – an amount Lee confirmed isn’t visible to the human eye.
Another witness Monday testified to seeing blood on the hand of one accused, following his return with his co-accused from an early-morning walk on Aug. 16, 2019.
The trial began Jan. 11 and is scheduled to continue through Feb. 4, then resume for two weeks in March.