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‘We could feel her pulse fade’: Witnesses recount fatal stabbing at Abbotsford school

Global News logo Global News 2019-10-09 Simon Little

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WARNING: This story contains graphic details which may be disturbing to some readers. Discretion is advised.

The trial of an Alberta man accused of stabbing a 13-year-old girl to death at an Abbotsford high school heard from new witnesses on Wednesday, including emotional testimony from another girl who was stabbed at the scene.

Gabriel Klein has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and aggravated assault in the killing of Letisha Reimer and the stabbing of another student at Abbotsford Senior Secondary School on Nov. 1, 2016.

The witness, a friend of Letisha's identified only as EI because her name is under a publication ban, appeared by video.

Tears could be heard in the courtroom as the video played.

She said the pair were sitting near the library on the first floor, playing with their phones during the last block of the school day when the attack happened.

Through tears, EI described sitting with her back to the attacker, and said Letisha would have seen him coming.

a woman smiling for the camera: Letisha Reimer died of her injuries after being stabbed by a male suspect at Abbotsford Secondary on Nov. 1, 2016. © Submitted Letisha Reimer died of her injuries after being stabbed by a male suspect at Abbotsford Secondary on Nov. 1, 2016.

READ MORE: Accused Abbotsford killer wanted to go to Alberta the day of fatal stabbing: shelter worker

She went on to describe being stabbed multiple times, with wounds to the chest, left shoulder, hand and eye.

"My finger was completely sliced," she told the court.

In an audio statement played to the court, a second student described seeing a man push EI off her chair and stab her about four times.

The court also heard from Abbotsford Senior Secondary teacher Ken Lachelt, who said he heard "loud, distinct, stressed" screaming at the time of the attack.

He testified that he ran out of his classroom to see Klein on top of Letisha, saying "his arms were jabbing into Letisha's body."

Lachelt yelled at Klein, who he described as "very aggressive" and "determined," to get off of Letisha, who he said was fighting and kicking to free herself.

He said Klein threw the knife down, backed away with his hands up and became "submissive."

READ MORE: Court sees graphic video as trial of man accused in Abbotsford high school murder begins

Through tears, Lachelt then described how he ran to Letisha to attempt first aid, only to feel her stop breathing and her breath fade.

The testimony drew sobs from the courtroom gallery.

Earlier in the day, the court heard from two witnesses who described seeing Klein in the hours leading up to the attack.

City contractor Ronald Chard said he saw Klein about two hours before the stabbings, less than a 15-minute walk from the school.

Chard told the court Klein was carrying a backpack and appeared to be in his own world, talking to himself and making high and low-pitched noises.

Chard said he was concerned for Klein, who he said looked stressed. He told the court he had a conversation with a woman who was also worried about Klein, telling her to call 911. He said he then drove around the block looking for Klein, but never saw him again.

READ MORE: ‘1 in 630-quintillion chance’ DNA found at Vancouver murder scene wasn’t from accused: expert

A second witness, Sidney Skyanz, testified that he was in his vehicle at Marshall and McCallum, waiting for his brother around 1 p.m., when he heard a man making "weird" noises.

Skyanz described the sound as "blood curdling," adding that the man walked past his car in the direction of the school, but did not appear to be staggering or drunk.

The court has previously heard from shelter workers who testified Klein had wanted to return to Edmonton the day of the killing, and had become frustrated that a ticket could not be arranged for him that day.

One shelter worker testified that Klein was displaying characteristics of schizophrenia.

The court also heard that Klein had been given a map to the public library connected to the high school, so he could use public email to contact his mother.

With files from Emily Lazatin and Grace Ke

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