Taylor Van Diest died of blow to head, says pathologist

On the third day of Matthew Foerster's first degree murder trial, a jury in Kelowna, B.C., heard disturbing details of the fatal injuries suffered by Taylor Van Diest.

WARNING: This story contains disturbing information some readers may find upsetting

Taylor van Diest is shown in her prom dress in June 2011. She was beaten to death months later, on Halloween night, while walking alone to meet a friend in Armstrong, B.C. (Facebook)

On the third day of Matthew Foerster's first degree murder trial, a jury in Kelowna, B.C., heard disturbing details of the fatal injuries suffered by Taylor Van Diest.

The 18-year-old girl from Armstrong, B.C., was found with fatal wounds by the side of railroads tracks on Halloween night in 2011

In a statement submitted on Tuesday, Foerster, of Cherryville, B.C., admitted responsibility for causing the injuries that killed Van Diest, but he has pleaded not guilty to the charge of first-degree murder.

On Wednesday, forensic pathologist John Stefanelli showed the court photographs from Van Diest's autopsy. He testified that she was choked and hit hard on the head six times, and that one of the blows was hard enough to fracture her skull.

Matthew Foerster admitted responsibility for causing Van Diest's injuries in a statement submitted to the court on Tuesday.

Stefanelli said the 18-year-old had marks on her neck that indicate she was strangled with something long and thin such as a piece of string, or a necklace or a cord. 

She also had a broken finger and bruising on her hands — defensive injuries he testified, from trying to fend off an attack.

Stefanelli said it was blunt force trauma from the blows to her head that caused the injuries she died from a few hours after the attack.

Under cross-examination from defence lawyer Lisa Jean Helps, Stefanelli said it was possible that the largest and most damaging injury to Van Diest's skull could have occurred as a result of her falling and hitting her head.

When Van Diest was found after being reported missing, her head was resting on a metal pipe.  

A father's pain

Outside the courthouse, the victim's father, Raymond Van Diest, said it was horrific to sit there and hear how his daughter suffered. 

"I hope she was unconscious and she didn't have to suffer the feeling. You know the pain that would... . It's like my God. You know it's hard," he said.

"I would have rather gone through that than her. I would have rather been there, and not her."

Van Diest told reporters it's hard to even be in the same courtroom with the accused knowing he has admitted to causing her death.​

"Painful, extremely painful, It kind of makes you want to do something we're not supposed to do," Van Diest said.

Yesterday, Matthew Foerster's legal team admitted he was responsible for the injuries that killed Taylor Van Diest, according to an admission filed in court in Kelowna, B.C.

Police combed the scene where Van Diest was found alive, but fatally wounded. (CBC)

The admission came a day after the jury heard that the Crown has a taped confession, in which Foerster, now 28, tells an RCMP interrogator that he harmed Van Diest while trying to rape her.

Stefanelli testified under cross-examination Wednesday that there were no apparent signs that Van Diest had been sexually assaulted.

Admissions of fact agreed to by the Crown and defence on Wednesday included a determination that the last outgoing text message sent from Van Diest's phone was that she was "being creeped," or followed.

With files from the CBC's Brady Strachan and The Canadian Press