On Friday, Thamer Almestadi appeared at the BC Supreme Court for the fourth day of trial in connection with an attack that occured at UBC on October 4, 2016. Almestadi — a 19-year-old international student — has been charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon.
The court first heard from Noah Bennett, 19, who shared a double dorm room with Almestadi before the attack in fall 2016. According to Bennett, the two had relatively different sleep schedules, with Almestadi staying up late to study and waking up later in the morning.
He told the court that besides getting less sleep and seeming a little more stressed than usual — at the time, it was midterm season at UBC — he didn’t notice any change in Almestadi in the days leading up to the attack.
Bennett left their room on October 4 at about 10:30 a.m., saying goodbye to Almestadi on his way out. Later that morning, he heard about an incident occuring at Totem Park through a general email that was sent out to most students living in the area — the vague and untimely response resulted in backlash from many students.
The court next heard from Janani Rangarajan, 20, who was a student residence advisor (RA) during the 2016/17 school year. Rangarajan said that when she ran into Almestadi — who was one of the residents under her care during the time — a few nights before the attack, he seemed stressed and said that both his school and social lives weren’t going well.
When she said she would see him later as they parted ways, he replied “maybe” in a tone that she found concerning enough that she went to see her supervisor the next morning.
Rangarajan testified that after a conversation with her student supervisor and the full-time staff supervisor of Totem Park, it was decided that she would ask Almestadi about whether he was depressed or considering self-harm. During that conversation, which took place another day later, he assured the RA that he had never considered self-harm, but that he was feeling “paranoid and nervousness” — they discussed counselling services that he might want to go to, she testified.
Testifies the RA: "I left that conversation feeling like [Almestadi] needed help, but that he was willing and that he would go and get it soon."— Ubyssey News (@UbysseyNews) October 13, 2017
Crown Counsel’s last witness of the day was another student, an acquaintance of Almestadi who also lived in Salish House last fall. The student testified that in the very early hours in the morning of October 4 — between approximately 1 and 5 a.m. — he studied with Almestadi in a residence lounge before returning to his room to sleep. According to the student, Almestadi seemed to be in good spirits at the time.
Due to difficulties with witness scheduling, court is expected to sporadically convene for trial over next week — as of now, it is expected that it will convene on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Among those who still need to testify are a psychiatrist who will speak on Almestadi’s mental health, and Almestadi himself.
Follow along with live coverage at the @UbysseyNews Twitter. We’ll be releasing a recap article after each day of the trial.