Maple Batalia Surrey murder trial begins next week in New Westminster

Crown prosecutor Wendy Stephen told the judge the Crown's case will likely be wrapped up in under two weeks.

B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster

NEW WESTMINSTER —  Maple Batalia, 19, was an aspiring actress and model who studied health sciences at Surrey’s Simon Fraser University campus before she was murdered in Whalley a little more than five years ago.

She was shot in the back seven times while returning to her car, which had been parked on the third-level of the campus’s parking lot.  Paramedics had struggled to save her but she died in hospital.

The attack happened in the early morning hours of Sept. 28, 2011, after a late-night study session.

Her brother, Kulmeet, told the Now shortly after her death that his sister was generally a homebody who studied hard. She’d been hitting the books at the campus library and called home shortly before the shooting, he said.

“She said, ‘I’ll be 10 minutes more, I’m doing my homework,'” Kulmeet said Maple told their mom during what would be their final conversation.

Next Tuesday, her alleged killers will be tried in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster in a judge-only trial with Justice Terry Schultes presiding.

Gurjinder Dhaliwal and Gursimar Bedi, both in their 20s, are the accused. Dhaliwal is charged with first-degree murder and Bedi is charged with manslaughter using a firearm and accessory after the fact.

Both were arrested following a 14-month police investigation. They sat in separate boxes, behind glass, and did not look at each other during a court hearing on Tuesday afternoon. The trail was expected to open then but Schultes agreed to adjourn the trial for a week, at defence lawyer Simon Buck’s request, so he can first review a ruling the judge is expected to deliver on Monday morning.

Schultes said it was a “proper and reasonable request.”

Buck is Dhaliwal’s lawyer and Bedi’s counsel is Hovan Patey and Justin Myers.

“We anticipate a very large volume of admissions,” Patey told the court.

The Crown prosecutors are Wendy Stephen and Brad Kielmann. Stephen told the judge the Crown’s case will likely be wrapped up in under two weeks.

Shortly after Batalia was killed, a couple hundred people attended a candlelight vigil for her at Holland Park and about the same number came one year later, to show they haven’t forgotten. Her family has raised more than $50,000 for a bursary in her name, to benefit female students enrolled in Simon Fraser University’s health sciences program.

At one point 25 homicide detectives were working on the case, around the clock.

“The loss of Maple Batalia, a beautiful young woman with a promising life in front of her is a tragedy that cannot be measured in the community,” Chief Supt. Bill Fordy, in charge of the Surrey RCMP,  said shortly after her death. “For all those who knew and loved her, most especially her loving family, the pain is evident and immeasurable.”

tom.zytaruk@thenownewspaper.com

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