New Brunswick is a Canadian province that is 86% Christian. It looks like these people are from the First Nations, but we all know how they were brutally raped, beaten and forced to accept Christianity (google residential schools) many years ago.
MIRAMICHI, N.B. - A courtroom in northern New Brunswick erupted in cheers
Saturday after a man was found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of his
A six-man, six-woman jury found Curtis Bonnell guilty after deliberating for
about six and a half hours late Friday and early Saturday.
Family members of the victim — Hilary Bonnell — wept openly in court as the
verdict was read. Curtis Bonnell showed no emotion and members of his immediate
family quickly left the courthouse.
Outside the courthouse, Hilary's mother, Pam Fillier, sobbed as relatives and
friends hugged her.
She said it will take a long time to heal.
"I don't think I will ever really have true closure," said Fillier. "She was
my only little girl and him being guilty doesn't give her back to me."
The conviction carries an automatic sentence of life in prison with no chance
of parole for 25 years, however, Judge Fred Ferguson has scheduled a sentencing
hearing for Nov. 14 to allow members of Hilary's family to read victim impact
During the seven-week trial at the Court of Queen's Bench in Miramichi, the
Crown alleged the 32-year-old Bonnell picked up the girl while driving on a
rural stretch of road, sexually assaulted her and killed her.
Prosecutor Bill Richards told the court that Bonnell buried her body near an
old firing range to avoid detection.
The girl's disappearance from the Esgenoopetitj First Nation on Sept. 5,
2009, sparked an extensive search and gripped the native community for two
Bonnell was arrested on Nov. 8, 2009, and led police to the burial site the
During subsequent interviews with police that were entered as evidence,
Bonnell told officers that he fought with Hilary, sexually assaulted her and
But during the trial, Bonnell offered a different version of events.
He testified that he woke up on Sept. 5, 2009, after a night of alcohol and
drugs to find Hilary dead next to him in his pickup truck. He said he didn't
know how she died, but panicked and buried her.
Bonnell said police filled his head with what they believed happened, and he
just told them what he thought they wanted to hear.
The court was told that autopsy and toxicology reports were inconclusive on
the exact cause of death, but termed the manner of death as a homicide.
A forensic pathologist called by the defence disagreed with the homicide
Dr. David Chiasson of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto said at best
it was "criminally suspicious." He suggested Hilary could have died as a result
of "positional asphyxia," which can happen when someone is intoxicated and they
get in a slumped position that constricts their airway.
Following the trial, Crown attorney Bill Richards told reporters that the
lack of a clear cause of death made the prosecution difficult.
"We had to give the answer to the jury circumstantially with the clothing on
Hilary as she was found, the laceration above her eye as well as that very, very
important and crucial text message," he said. "Those are the things I think
sealed the first-degree murder conviction in the jury's mind."
During the trial, the jury was shown two text messages that Hilary sent to
Haylie Bonnell, the accused's sister, on the morning she disappeared.
They read, "Please answer me I'm scared," and "OMF text me I'm scared."
Haylie's phone battery had died and the messages weren't retrieved until five
RCMP Sgt. Greg Lupson said police had little to go on after the girl's sudden
"It is just good old fashioned police work that led to this," said Lupson on
Saturday. "There was no one piece of critical evidence that was pointed to."
Defence attorney Gilles Lemieux said he was surprised Bonnell was found
guilty of first-degree murder.
The jury had the options of first- or second-degree murder, manslaughter, or
He said an appeal is being considered.
"We are definitely going to look at our different avenues as far as that
goes," Lemieux said as he left the courthouse. "I fully anticipate that we'll
get instructions to file an appeal."
The defence would have 30 days to file a notice of appeal, following the Nov. 14 sentencing hearing.