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Trial for B.C. man accused of killing, dismembering wife begins

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Warning: some of the details may be disturbing to some readers

The trial for a Langley man accused of killing his wife began as scheduled on Monday after he agreed to continue with a French interpreter, with the prosecutor laying out a disturbing series of facts agreed upon by both Crown and defence.

Obnes Regis is charged with manslaughter and indignity to human remains for allegedly killing his wife, Naomi Onotera, in August of 2021. He sat in the prisoner’s box as his interpreter translated the proceedings before Madam Justice Martha Devlin, who will rule on the case without a jury.

The first item stated by Crown prosecutor, Crichton Pike, during his “admissions of fact” was that Regis had been hired by the B.C. Courts to be an interpreter himself, but that it was unclear if he’d ever actually worked on a trial.

Pike laid out a timeline of events around Onotera’s disappearance, and Regis’s odd behaviour as his wife’s family and friends grew alarmed they could not reach her and called police, then the undercover police evidence and forensic material contained in 40 exhibits: bone fragments and hair purportedly found on a mitre saw in the front yard of the couple’s home, and surveillance video of Regis with the couple’s toddler daughter and a black backpack taking transit and a taxi from Surrey to Maple Ridge to Fort Langley.

Regis allegedly took undercover officers to the site where he scattered Onotera’s bones along the Fraser River in Fort Langley. He also allegedly told them some of the finger-sized pieces fell into the water while others fell in the bushes. Crown says he’d taken his daughter with him to do so and used public transit to Maple Ridge, then Langley before taking a taxi to Fort Langley.

Pike called the first of only two witnesses for the prosecution, a BCIT instructor named Steen Hartsen. Devlin qualified him as an expert witness in DNA and forensic investigations. 

Onotera's family was in the courtroom and her sister gave a brief statement to journalists on their behalf.

"We are just relieved to finally start this process and we just want to see the strongest justice for my sister delivered," said Kirsten Kerr, who hopes her sister is ultimately remembered as a warm and loving person.

"She was an amazing mother. She lived for her daughter. She would do anything for her," Kerr said, her voice thick with emotion.

"That’s one of the hardest parts, knowing she won't get to do that. She won't get to see all her (daughter's) milestones." 

The trial resumes Tuesday and is expected to last a full month. Under law, Regis is innocent unless convicted in court.

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