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Sister saw brother beaten, court hears

MARIKA HILL
Last updated 05:00 12/02/2013
John Li'a
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VICTIM: John Li'a.

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The younger sister of a murder victim watched helplessly as her brother was allegedly viciously beaten, before fleeing when one of the murder accused turned on her.

John Li'a, 23, died on a roadside in the Auckland suburb of Mt Roskill on October 14, 2011, after suffering eight stab wounds from his head to his waist.

Cecilia Uhrle, Unalotu Tongia, Esau Vailagilala and Faamanu Fesuluai yesterday appeared at the High Court in Auckland charged with his murder.

Crown prosecutor Evan McCaughan said Li'a had stormed out of Uhrle's birthday party after an argument on the night of his murder.

He smashed glass on the door and back windscreen of Uhrle's car as he left with his younger sister Millie Li'a.

Uhrle chased the pair in her car before attacking him on a nearby street, McCaughan said.

"As she was doing this she was threatening and swearing at Milly Li'a."

After over powering the victim, Uhrle returned to the party to fetch the three co-accused men to continue the attack, McCaughan said.

"The three men immediately started beating up John Li'a as Cecilia Uhrle watched."

Uhrle then turned to the younger sister and told her she was next, McCaughan said.

"She got really scared and ran off."
 
Li'a called the police while hiding from Uhrle behind a nearby home.

More than 60 witnesses will be called during the trial, including neighbours who allegedly woke to screaming and saw the three accused men attacking Li'a.

McCaughan said the accused were picking up Li'a by the hair and slamming him down and kicking him while he was on the ground.

Li'a suffered eight wounds from various weapons, he added.

At one stage during the attack, a witness heard Uhrle say: "That's what happens when you mess with my family", McCaughan said.

All four accused allegedly fled the scene when a resident threatened them with a machete.

Police found Li'a unconscious and lying in a pool of his own blood.

Dogs tracked the four accused to the house of the birthday party.

Police found Li'a's blood on all three of the accused men's clothes and traces of blood in the bathroom at the house.

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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- Auckland Now

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