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New trial begins for pair accused of murdering pregnant Surrey woman in 2005
Surrey RCMP Const. April Brooker was on general duty just after 12 noon on Nov. 22, 2005 when she got the call to attend a home in Newton where a woman was reportedly found dead.
As Brooker pulled up to the house on 72 Avenue near 143 Street, she saw a woman standing on the front lawn, who she remembers "appeared frantic." The woman led Brooker and a fellow police officer through the garage area of the home, where she immediately saw a body on the ground.
It was a female laying on her back near the threshold to the suite entrance, where the door was open.
The deceased woman, it turned out, was 21-year-old Tasha Rossette, a single mom of a three-year-old daughter, with another child on the way. The woman who found her said she was Rossette's sister.
Brooker was testifying in New Westminster Supreme Court on Monday, the opening day of trial for Amjad Khan and Naim Saghir, both charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in Rossette's death.
This is the second trial for the pair, having had their 2008 murder convictions overturned by the B.C. Court of Appeal in 2011.
In her opening arguments, Crown prosecutor Donna Ballyk said Khan and Rossette had gone to school with one another several years earlier, but had a more current sexual relationship.
Rossette, said Ballyk, was 17 weeks pregnant with Khan's child. The prosecutor said the Crown's lineup of witnesses will show that Khan wanted Rossette killed because she refused to have an abortion.
The numerous witnesses will include two different men Khan allegedly tried to hire to kill Rossette, as well a former roommate who claims Saghir admitted slashing Rossette's throat.
Rossette was out playing bingo the night of her death. Khan picked her up afterwards to drive her home, stopping for Subway sandwiches along the way. In the meantime, Ballyk said, the evidence will show Saghir had snuck into Rossette's suite. Khan, she said, drove the pregnant young mother home, knowing that Saghir was waiting to kill her.
Rossette died Nov. 20, 2005. Her body wasn't discovered by her sister until two days later.
In earlier testimony, Cpl. Christine Lloyd, who was with the forensic identification section of the RCMP at the time, reviewed photos she'd taken at the crime scene, including one of a knife found behind the home, a full Subway bag near the suite entrance, as well as a close-up of the deceased's hand holding what appeared to be a clump of hair.
Tensions were high inside and outside the courtroom Monday morning as family and friends of Rossette and supporters of the two accused exchanged glares and harsh words.
Khan and Saghir sat side-by-side in the plexiglass prisoners' box as they listened to opening-day testimony.
Khan, his head shaved bald with a short beard, wore a black sweater with a white dress shirt underneath, and gave a small smile and wave to people in the court gallery. Saghir wore a dark suit jacket, his short, dark hair gelled.
The trial continues.