HALIFAX, N.S. - The trial of Christopher Garnier came to an emotional end Thursday as he was found guilty of the second-degree murder of Catherine Campbell and interfering with her dead body in September 2015.
As the jury announced their verdict Garnier's girlfriend Brittany Francis and his family broke down in tears at the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia in Halifax.
Campbell's family remained mostly silent in the courtroom, but afterwards they too wept as they embraced prosecutors Carla Ball and Christine Driscoll outside the courtroom.
"All I want to say is that for almost two-and-a-half years we've sought justice for Catherine," said her mother Susan after the verdict was reached.
The verdict was reached on Thursday afternoon, shortly before 2 p.m. It took the jury four-and-a-half hours to reach their decision.
The punishment for second-degree murder is life in prison for a minimum non-parole period of 10 years, including any time spent in pre-trial detention. The jury can make a recommendation for how many years Garnier must serve, but they cannot pass sentence.
Catherine Campbell, who grew up in Stellarton and worked as a police officer in Truro, was found dead in September 2015.
"We're just glad it's over," said Susan.
The crown maintained that she was killed in the early hours of Sept. 11 after meeting Christopher Garnier at the Alehouse in Halifax and going back to his friend’s apartment where he was staying at McCully Street.
Prosecutors Christine Driscoll and Carla Ball argued throughout the trial that Garnier had strangled Campbell and disposed of her body by carrying it away in a green bin.
"We're very pleased for the Campbell family who have conducted themselves with dignity through this entire thing and pleased that they have justice for their daughter," Driscoll told media.
The defence however maintained that Campbell was killed while engaged in consensual rough sexual activity with Garnier. Garnier said that Campbell asked him to choke and hit her.
His defence lawyer Joel Pink said he suffered from automatism afterward and doesn’t remember disposing of the body, so therefore cannot be held responsible.
"The jury considered the evidence and they came to the decision and they felt they only needed four-and-a-half hours in order to come to the decision they did," said Pink.
He added that instead of criticizing the jury it was important to "decide where we go from here."
Pink also said that it was too early to say whether or not he was going to appeal Garnier's sentence.
Both the defence and prosecution must prepare for a parole eligibility hearing that Pink said will probably be completed next April.
Garnier was taken into custody as soon as the verdict was announced.
Sept. 10, 2015: Catherine Campbell takes a taxi and goes out to the Alehouse in Halifax where she is seen talking and making out with Christopher Garnier.
Sept. 11, 2015: Police believe it was in the early hours of this day that Campbell was strangled to death. Her body was discarded with a green bin.
Sept. 14, 2015: Campbell is reported missing after she doesn’t show up for work.
Sept. 17, 2015: Christopher Garnier is charged with second-degree murder of Campbell.
Nov. 20, 2017: Jury selection begins in Garnier’s trial
Dec. 18, 2017: Closing statements are made for the trial.
Dec. 21, 2017: The jury reaches their verdict that Garnier is guilty of both second-degree murder and interfering with a dead body.