Matthew Foerster's plea to second degree murder rings hollow for Van Diest family - InfoNews

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Matthew Foerster's plea to second degree murder rings hollow for Van Diest family

FILE PHOTO: Marie and Raymond Van Diest, Taylor's parents, speak to reporters.
March 12, 2018 - 11:48 AM

VERNON - Now that Matthew Foerster has pleaded guilty to the second degree murder of Armstrong teen Taylor Van Diest, her parents hope he is given the highest sentence possible.

Foerster entered the plea this morning in Vernon Supreme Court, meaning he will avoid a re-trial for first degree murder. The Cherryville man was brought into court today, March 12, in shackles, wearing blue jeans and a long-sleeved blue shirt.

Justice Gary Weatherill asked Foerster to admit to the essential elements of second degree murder, including that the offence caused Van Diest’s death. Foerster uttered a soft “yes” in response to the series of questions and avoided eye contact with Van Diest's family, seated in the gallery.

The admission was of little consolation to Van Diest’s family, who sat through a two week trial in 2014 resulting in a conviction of first degree murder. Foerster later appealed the verdict. 

“To us, he’s always going to be guilty of first degree,” Taylor’s mother, Marie Van Diest said. “We know what he did to Taylor.”

Foerster's sentencing is scheduled for April 9 to April 11 in Vernon, and the Van Diest family has been advised the Crown is seeking life in prison with no parole for 17 to 20 years. Crown counsel Christopher McPherson declined to comment on the case today.

“Our sentence doesn’t change. We’re in this forever,” Marie said. “I hope in sentencing the judge is not at all lenient.”

While both first degree and second degree murder carry a sentence of life imprisonment, parole eligibility typically comes sooner for offenders convicted of second degree. The maximum for second degree murder is no parole eligibility for 25 years.

Taylor’s father, Raymond Van Diest, says 17 to 20 years without parole — as the Crown is expected to request at sentencing — is not enough.

“Matthew knows what he did,” Raymond said. “How can you leave somebody on a railroad track with that kind of damage?”

Van Diest was found on Halloween night, 2011, badly injured. She was supposed to meet her friends that evening for trick-or-treating, but never made it.

In 2014, Foerster was convicted of two earlier attacks against women. In October of 2004, he entered a 19-year-old Cherryville woman’s home and knocked her head against a wall. She screamed and he left.

A few months later, in 2005, Foerster visited a Kelowna escort agency and assaulted a sex trade worker. He was sentenced to six years in jail.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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