Accused in attack on UBC student pleads not guilty
Published Tuesday, October 10, 2017 1:59PM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 10, 2017 7:10PM PDT
The trial is underway for an international student accused of trying to kill a young woman on the University of British Columbia campus last year.
Thamer Almestadi pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon, all stemming from a terrifying attack at the Salish House dormitory in October 2016.
Family members of both Almestadi and the victim, fellow international student Mary Hare, attended B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver for the outset of the case.
The court heard Almestadi, a student from Saudi Arabia, knocked on the door of Hare's room around 11:30 in the morning and slit her throat with a knife. He then allegedly started choking her.
Hare fought back against her attacker, grabbing the blade of the knife and breaking it off. The Crown said two other students ran into the room, found Almestadi with his legs around Hare's neck and pulled him off of her.
Following the attack, police found a box of knives in the accused's dorm room, the court heard.
Hare, an American who was studying in the UBC arts program, suffered injuries to her trachea and was left with three scars on her neck, the longest of which is five inches long.
She was 19 at the time of the incident.
The victim spoke to CTV News outside the courtroom Tuesday, saying she was nervous about her appearance. Hare was asked to recount the attack in harrowing detail.
"Having to relive that again, after having to relive it so many times, is always intense," she said.
She testified that her life changed forever that day, and that the assault left lasting physical and psychological scars.
"I'm still afraid to open a door. I'm still afraid of going outside," Hare said.
"Just because I have that residual fear of somebody standing there, waiting to kill me."
Although it's been more than a year since the attack, she said seeing the accused in court brought back memories: "It's just like it's the same day again."
Almestadi, who was 18, was enrolled in Vantage College, a special program for first-year international students. UBC banned him from campus after the attack.
Police said at the time that the suspect and victim were known to each other.
The court heard the two students had only briefly met once in the weeks before Hare was assaulted. Almestadi lived in the same building, just one floor above the victim.
Almestadi's trial is expected to last three weeks.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Sarah MacDonald
Court hears Almestadi's professors grew concerned when he stopped attending @UBC classes in September. Described him as unusually apathetic.— Sarah MacDonald (@CTVSarah) October 10, 2017