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May 20, 1999
Teen murder trial goes for verdict
A P Kamath in Victoria
As one of the most sensational murder trials in British Columbia gets set for a verdict, Warren Glowatski, the prime accused, vigorously denied last week that he had had any part in the final beating of 14-year-old Reena Virk and in putting her into a waterway where she died in a few minutes.
Several of Reena's classmates -- all girls -- were found guilty last year of participating in her beating. Reena, a troubled teenager, was not popular with her classmates.
Glowatski, now 18, however, admitted under intense questioning by the prosecutors that he did kick Reena in the head and assisted another teenager drag her down an embankment.
The girl's murder, allegedly at the hands of her teenaged schoolmates, made sensational headlines two years ago and led to detailed articles about teenage crimes in newspapers and magazines not only in Canada but also in the United States.
A decision on Glowatski's role in the murder is expected in about two weeks.
Meanwhile, another student, identified by the police only as KME, will go on trial at the end of the year for her part in the murder.
KME is just about 16.
Glowatski said it was KME who was wholly responsible for the final beating. He asserted in court all through last month, through his lawyer, that he did not even know that Reena was dead. Only when KME began to brag in the school about Reena's death did he understand what had really happened, Glowatski said.
According to the prosecution, at least 15 students knew Reena had been murdered, but none volunteered information, despite repeated pleas about her whereabouts by parents, friends and officials.
Her body was found eight days later in the Gorge, an ocean inlet.
Glowatski sought to minimise his role in the murder by asserting that he did not know Reena. A fight had broken out among more than a dozen boys and girls over trivial issues, and he had joined the fight, he recalled.
"I didn't know her, so how could I not like her?" he asked last week in court.
Though he told the court he had felt traumatised by the kick he gave Reena and vomited soon after the fight, he never wondered what had happened to her.
Did he think she might die going into the water, he was asked.
"I never thought of it," he answered.
Suman and Manjit Virk, Reena's parents, have attended the trial for the most part in the last few months. Last week they filed a motion in court not to release the autopsy pictures of Reena to the media. Several news organisations have sought to use the pictures in their reports.
Glowatski answered in dull whispers most of the questions, prompting the judge several times to warn him to speak up clearly.
He said he thought KME was robbing Reena because he had heard KME ordering Reena to remove her jacket and shoes.
But he did not do anything to stop KME, Glowatski admitted. He said it was "the worst mistake of my life."
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