Trial to begin Monday in Alicia Ross killing
TORONTO - More than a year-and-a-half after the disappearance of a 25-year-old woman from an affluent Toronto-area neighbourhood sparked one of the largest missing person's investigations in Ontario history, the man accused of killing her will have his day in court.
Last week, Daniel Sylvester's attempt to plead guilty in court to the lesser crime of manslaughter was denied.
On Monday, the eight women and four men who've been selected as his jury will begin hearing witness testimony at the 33-year old's second-degree murder trial.
The charge stems from the August 2005 death of Sylvester's then next-door neighbour, Alicia Ross.
The Markham, Ont., woman's severed remains were recovered in two separate wooded areas in central Ontario shortly after Sylvester came forward to police the following month.
In an interview, prosecutor Peter Westgate said the Crown intends to call at least 11 witnesses. The prosecution will start with members of Ross's family as well as those individuals believed to be the last to see her alive, Westgate said.
The trial is expected to last eight weeks.
Ross's mother Sharon Fortis will likely be among the witnesses as will Sean Hine, Ross's boyfriend at the time of her death.
Westgate said Hine now resides in the United States and would be testifying via video link.
Hine was considered a "person of interest" in the five weeks between Ross's disappearance and Sylvester's decision to surrender to police on his lawyer's advice.
The label made Hine a marked man and he was consistently pursued by media. After Sylvester's arrest, suspicion gave way to sympathy for the grieving boyfriend.
More than 500 people packed a Toronto synagogue to say goodbye to Ross, lovingly described by Fortis as "an adorable baby, a precocious toddler, a blossoming preteen and a terrible, terrible teenager."
She was remembered as an avid outdoors woman who enjoyed playing her guitar and watching the TV show "The Amazing Race" with her mom.
In the days after Sylvester's arrest, neighbours and friends described the man as a shy and quiet loner who was nonetheless raised in an excellent home.
"I'm absolutely stunned. I've known Daniel since he was a little boy," Bob Proctor, a longtime family friend who worked with Sylvester's late father for more than 25 years said at the time.
Ross's family has refused to comment before the trial.