Chelsey Acorn has been called many things: a chronic runaway, a troubled teen, someone who had issues with authority.
However, her family says there was more to her than met the eye. She was also lively, animated and made friends wherever she went.
"There's lots of troubled teens around, but she had another side to her which was loving and caring and full of life. Unfortunately, that was robbed from her and that's what this is about," Chelsey's cousin, Stacey Laybolt, said Tuesday.
Chelsey's family, including her mother Lisa Acorn, were in Chilliwack Tuesday for the first day of the B.C. Supreme Court trial of one of the men accused of killing Chelsey almost seven years ago.
Jesse Blue West is charged with first-degree murder. West initially went to trial with his son, Dustin Robert Moir, in November 2009, but their cases were severed after about a month. West has elected to be tried before a judge alone.
A jury convicted Moir of first-degree murder in February 2010 and he was given the mandatory sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.
According to an opening statement from Crown prosecutor John Hempsted, Chelsey ran away from her Abbotsford foster home in June 2005. It is alleged that sometime between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2005, she was murdered. Her body was found in April 2006 by hikers who saw a human bone under a pile of rocks along the Coquihalla River just north of Hope.
Police used a complicated "Mr. Big" undercover operation to gather evidence against Moir and West.
The trial's first witness was Cara Godbehere, who was Chelsey's social worker from September 2004 until the 14-year-old disappeared in June 2005.
During the nine months that Chelsey was under Godbehere's guardianship, Chelsey bounced between 12 foster homes. She was considered a "chronic AWOLer" and had open files with police in Abbotsford and Mission because she ran away so often.
Godbehere said Chelsey had oppositional defiant disorder and attachment disorder, which cause her to be argumentative with authority figures, disobedient, hostile and angry. She also told lies.
Godbehere said one of the reasons Chelsey was in so many foster homes was that she made accusations against her foster parents, all of which were investigated and deemed to be unfounded.
Chelsey refused to go to school and missed appointments with counsellors, youth workers and Godbehere.
Godbehere said Chelsey admitted to smoking marijuana and drinking, but denied doing harder drugs, although Godbehere once found what she believed to be other drug paraphernalia.
Godbehere said Chelsey was at a high risk of being exploited.
Godbehere described her working relationship with Chelsey as "tense," but she said there were some bright spots - Chelsey was interested in modelling and loved animals.
"She was a very beautiful girl," Godbehere said.
When she was shown three photos of Chelsey that she had provided to police, Godbehere was quiet and then broke down in tears.
Laybolt said that sitting through the next six weeks of testimony will be difficult for Chelsey's family - especially her mother - but they are hoping to get justice for the murdered teen.
"That's the main thing, that she gets the justice that she deserves, because at the end of the day she was a 14-year-old girl and didn't deserve what happened to her," she said.