Butcher said 'sorry' after alleged killing, deceased officer says on video
Aly Thomson, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, April 12, 2018 9:26AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 12, 2018 4:54PM EDT
WARNING: Some readers may find details in this story disturbing.
HALIFAX -- A blood-caked Nicholas Butcher told an officer he was "sorry" minutes after he informed a 911 dispatcher he had killed his girlfriend and tried to kill himself, the law school graduate's second-degree murder trial heard Thursday.
The 14-member Nova Scotia Supreme Court jury watched a video statement from Sgt. Matthew MacGillivray, who arrested the 35-year-old man at Kristin Johnston's Halifax-area home on March 26, 2016.
The Halifax police officer died of cancer in November 2017, and gave the sworn statement on Sept. 5, 2017, knowing he likely wouldn't be alive to testify at Butcher's trial.
On the video, MacGillivray said Butcher was covered in dry, caked-on blood when he emerged from the home shirtless and wearing pyjama pants, and that he was tasked with remaining with him on the porch.
He said he was trying to maintain a dialogue with Butcher, who was missing his right hand and had injuries on his neck, so that he didn't fall unconscious.
MacGillivray said Butcher kept repeating "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry ... I want to call my mother"
He said that day was "hard to forget."
"This is one of the most bizarre calls I've ever been on for a number of reasons," said MacGillivray, wearing a plaid shirt and Oakley glasses.
Halifax police Det. Alexander MacAdam was the officer who conducted the interview with MacGillivray, and took the stand Thursday as the video was played.
MacGillivray told MacAdam he briefly recited Butcher's rights to him on the porch from memory, because he was holding a C8 carbine and was watching the suspect, so he could not retrieve his card with the full rights and cautions.
He later travelled with Butcher in the ambulance to the hospital, and read him his rights verbatim at that time. Butcher said he understood, and wanted a lawyer, he said.
MacGillivray said when they arrived at the hospital, he stood outside the operating room.
"I remember seeing the hand in a steel tray," he said.
He had no further involvement in the case after that.
Police officers have testified they found the body of the Montreal-born yoga instructor in the master bedroom of her Purcells Cove home on a blood-soaked bed, next to a steak knife.
They testified that a mitre saw and an amputated hand were found nearby.
The Crown has said the medical examiner will testify the 32-year-old woman had 10 wounds on her neck, and that her death was caused by sharp force.
Butcher has pleaded not guilty.
Later, Halifax police Det. Const. Randy Wood took the stand and went through hundreds of photos of the crime scene. The photos showed Johnston's body and "red" hand impressions on the bed.
The photos also showed a mitre saw plugged into the wall.
As well, the jury was shown exhibits that were seized from the bedroom, including a green lighter, a single razor blade, a package of razor blades and a knife.
Media were also permitted to access certain trial exhibits Thursday, including audio of the 911 call Butcher made the morning of Johnston's death, the video of MacGillivray's video statement and crime scene photos.
The trial resumes Monday.
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