Sister witnessed killing, court hears

MARIKA HILL
Last updated 14:03 11/02/2013
Homicide Mt Roskill
PETER MEECHAM/Fairfax Media

CRIME SCENE: A smashed letterbox lies next to the police tent inside the cordon in Nash Rd, Mt Roskill, after John Lia was found dead on the footpath.

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A woman accused of murder allegedly said "that's what happens when you mess with my family" as she watched three men beat an Auckland man, a court has heard.

John Li'a died from eight stab wounds on a roadside in of Mt Roskill on October 14, 2011.

Unalotu Tongia, Esau Vailagilala, Cecilia Uhrle and Faamanu Fesuluai have been charged with his murder and their trial began at the High Court in Auckland today.

Li'a had been at Uhrle's birthday party at a house in Revel Ave the night he died.

Crown prosecutor Evan McCaughan said Li'a stormed out of the party after an argument, smashing glass on the door and back windscreen of Uhrle's car as he left.

Furious at Li'a, Uhrle chased him to a nearby street and over powered the victim, pushing him to the ground, McCaughan said.

She returned to the birthday party to fetch three of the accused and return to Li'a, knowing they intended to attack him.

Neighbours are expected to testify they woke to screams and saw three men attacking Li'a.

"They were picking him up by the hair and slamming him down," McCaughan said.

Witness saw the three accused men "throwing him around like and rag doll" and kicking him as he lay on the ground.

He said at one point a resident told the accused to stop before they killed him, but Uhrle allegedly responded: "That's what happens when you mess with my family."

It was only when a neighbour threatened the attackers with a machete that the men ran off, he said.

Li'a's younger sister Millie Li'a witnessed the alleged attack before running away and calling police.

Uhrle chased her while the men stabbed the victim with multiple weapons, McCaughan said.

An autopsy showed Li'a died from eight stab wounds, from the top of his head to his waist.

Police found Lia's blood on all three of the accused men's clothes.

Traces of blood were also found throughout the bathroom at the birthday party.

A knife was found in an alleyway between the murder scene and the house of the party.

The defence is expected to argue none of the accused had any involvement in the stabbing.

The trial is before a jury of eight women and four men.

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