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Second witness takes stand in B.C. manslaughter trial as husband's lawyers silent

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Warning: Some of these details are disturbing

The lawyers for a Langley man accused of killing and dismembering his wife’s remains had no questions as the prosecution’s first witness wrapped up his expert testimony, and have so far raised no objections as another witness takes the stand.

The lawyers for Obnes Regis remained silent on the second day of his trial Tuesday, where he faces one charge of manslaughter and another of indignity to human remains in the killing of his wife, Naomi Onotera.

Regis has pleaded not guilty, but the first day of the trial saw a Crown prosecutor present the judge with a lengthy agreed statement of facts, including Regis taking the couple’s toddler daughter to the Fraser River after midnight to throw handfuls of his wife’s cut up bones into the water.

BCIT instructor Steen Hertsen, a DNA and forensics expert, finished his highly technical testimony with his methodology for testing samples from knives, a manual saw and a radial saw seized from the couple’s home in 2021.

He told Madame Justice Martha Devlin, who is hearing the case alone without a jury, that in his expert opinion and as a result of his lab’s analysis, he believes all the human tissue samples came from the same person.

The second and final witness for the prosecution was RCMP Sgt. Heather Burwell, a forensic identification expert based in Langley, who went into great detail about her search of the couple’s Langley house, both visually and with various investigative strategies to detect human blood and other remains, documenting her search and IHIT’s seizure of various suspicious items. She tested various stains in the home, but didn’t find any human blood inside.

Burwell personally dismantled a radial saw that had multiple types of tissue that tested positive as containing human blood. She also found dark hairs, a small piece of bone and a white thread-like material inside the machine.

She will continue her testimony on Thursday. It’s still not clear if Regis himself, who has a French interpreter translating the proceedings for him, will take the stand in his own defense.

There are 40 exhibits in the trial, including surveillance video of Regis and his child the night his wife was reported missing by her mother, an interrogation with RCMP, and another video where undercover officers walk with Regis to the section of the Fraser River where he showed them where he pulled out grocery bags full of bones cut into “finger-sized pieces” and threw them in the water.

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