On first day of Almestadi trial, witnesses recount alleged attempted murder at UBC

Today was the first day of the BC Supreme Court trial of former UBC student Thamer Almestadi, 19, who has been charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon after allegedly attacking a fellow UBC student last October.

Almestadi has pled not guilty to all charges against him.

Much of today’s proceedings were spent calling multiple witnesses to the stand to shed light on the morning of the alleged assault.

At approximately 11:30 a.m. on October 4, 2016, an assault occured against UBC student Mary Hare in her dorm room on an all-female floor of Salish House, Totem Park Residence. Hare was in her room when reportedly, a man knocked on her door and attacked her when she answered, ultimately attempting to choke her and partially slitting her throat with a knife. Hare was taken to Vancouver General Hospital, where she recovered.

According to testimony from Hare, she has three scars on her neck — the longest of which is five inches long — and injuries to her trachea. She told the court that she barely knew Almestadi before the attack, and had only had a brief conversation with him in the weeks prior.

A student witness, who lived on the residence’s third floor with Hare, testified that she was drawn out of her room along with another hallmate after hearing what they believed to be a woman screaming. According to testimony, the two women entered Hare’s room to find a man on top of her and choking her. They then tried to remove his hands from his neck without luck.

A male UBC student testified that he and a friend entered the room and assisted in separating Hare and her attacker.

UBC RCMP Constable Robert Thompson — who was one of the first officers to respond to the report of the assault — testified that when he arrived on the third floor, he saw Hare lying in the hallway with students tending to her injuries and his colleague, Constable Benson Tsui, performing arrest procedures on the man in Hare’s room. Thompson then oversaw the arrival of emergency health services and Hare’s transfer to the hospital.

Most noticeably, Thomspon said, he saw a horizontal cut on Hare’s neck, almost entirely from one side to the other.

Constable Stan Wong, another UBC RCMP officer among the first on the scene, then testified. When asked if the man arrested on the scene was in the courtroom, he responded “yes” and pointed to the accused, Almestadi.

Student witnesses agreed that Hare’s attacker appeared “emotionless” and “task-oriented,” and then “dazed” and “confused” after their intervention.

Wong described the suspect as without emotion at the time of his arrest, but cooperative with police.

After Almestadi was arrested, Tsui drove him to the UBC RCMP’s detachment, with Wong following in his own car. Almestadi was then placed in one of two holding cells at the detachment, and paramedics were called to tend to two small cuts on his forearm, which did not require hospitalization.

While the paramedics treated Almestadi, Wong took notes on what he heard, which were read to the court during his testimony.

Wong noted down that Almestadi claimed that he did not know what he did, and that he “felt bad.” While Almestadi could tell the parademic the current year, he also claimed that he sometimes experienced hallucinations.

During cross-examination, the defence counsel then asked Wong if, due to Almestadi’s soft-spoken nature and the lack of a recording device, it might be “impossible to make a verbatim recording under the circumstances” with only handwritten notes — Wong agreed.

Wong also testified that upon searching Almestadi’s own dorm room, RCMP found an opened package of steak knives inside a box.

Tomorrow, the court will watch Almestadi’s three-hour videotaped statement.

Follow along with live coverage at the @UbysseyNews Twitter. We’ll be releasing a recap article after each day of the trial.