When the coroner arrived to remove Panagiota (“Yota”) Zerbinos’ body from the Surrey suite where she was killed in 2012, a knife was still protruding from her chest.
Gloria Zerbinos, who lived in the suite, was arrested two days later for the murder of Panagiota, her mother. Gloria’s second-degree murder trial began in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster on Monday.
She was 28 when she was arrested for killing her 43-year-old mom.
Crown prosecutors contend Gloria stabbed Panagiota, known as “Yota,” multiple times and intended to cause her death. The court heard that the victim’s body was discovered in a house near 88 Avenue and 148A Street, where Gloria lived.
The first witness to testify at the trial, RCMP forensic investigator Cpl. Jeffrey Jackson, said the body was on the floor of the basement suite’s living room, covered with a blanket. There appeared to be blood stains around the body, as well as what looked like bloody shoe prints, he said.
Examining 107 photos taken at the crime scene, Jackson pointed to wounds on both wrists of the deceased, and what appeared to be strands of black hair near or on both hands.
The accused listened to the testimony from the Plexiglass prisoner’s box wearing a green sweat suit, her hair now dark, long and frizzy.
Crown prosecutor Craig Yamashiro said Panagiota’s husband Trevor Forsyth will testify he became worried when he hadn’t heard from his common-law partner on Nov. 8, 2012 and that evening, got the landlord to open the door to her suite, where his wife lay dead.
Also expected to testify are a pathologist, first-responders and neighbourhood witnesses, including one who was living in the adjacent basement suite. Yamashiro said she’ll provide evidence saying she heard noises from Gloria’s suite on the day of the murder, including a dog barking, a baby crying and someone saying “shhhhh.”
Another witness is expected to testify he saw Gloria walking to her mom’s car parked outside the home. When he asked if she was borrowing it, she said “Shhhh, don’t tell anyone” – an answer he thought was a joke. She was unable to drive the car, however, because it was a stick shift.
The Crown alleges Gloria killed her mom and then dropped off her young son and dog at her grandmother’s house just up the street.
The grandmother, however, passed away in December 2013, so prosecutors hope to play a recording of her previous testimony at trial.
Gloria was arrested at the No. 5 Orange strip club in Vancouver two days after her mom was killed.
The trial is being heard by Justice Frits Verhoeven. It’s scheduled to continue for two weeks.