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UPDATED: Closing statements made at Christopher Garnier murder trial

Christopher Garnier
Christopher Garnier

For two minutes prosecutor Christine Driscoll stood silent in the courtroom.

The same length of time she says it would have taken for Catherine Campbell to have been strangled.

And with that silent span of time she rested her case.

Now it will be up for a jury to decide whether Campbell died accidently during rough sex or if she was murdered by Christopher Garnier.

Both the crown and defence made closing statements for the case Monday in Halifax.

Garnier is accused of second degree murder and interfering with a dead body in the death of Campbell who was found dead in September 2015. Campbell was a Truro police officer who had grown up in Stellarton and was a volunteer firefighter with the Stellarton fire department.

Pink called into question the reliability of some of the 37 witnesses called by the Crown. For example, Garnier's friend Mitch Devoe who went out drinking with him, consumed rum and marijuana. "His evidence is clouded. He can't be sure," said Pink.

Pink then noted the lack of injuries on Garnier's body that you might expect if there had been a struggle. He noted that Campbell's body was relatively intact and that most injuries could have been sustained post-mortem. For example he said the black eyes and blood in the whites of her eyes could have been caused by her body being left in the prone position after death.

Pink said that erotic breath play brought about an accidental death and can be brought on by cutting the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain using a forearm, as described by Garnier.

Pink also pointed out that no semen or foreign DNA was found in her vagina. Very little blood of hers was found in the apartment on 5714 McCully Street where Garnier and Campbell went in the early hours of Sept. 11.

Pink then pointed to the evidence given by Campbell's colleague Justin Russell, who trained with her. The training included self-defence and release from chokeholds. Russell testified earlier that he trusted Campbell to back him up in a real-life police situation.

Pink then said that no defence wounds indicating a struggle were found in his client's body, pointing again to erotic asphyxiation.

Pink then moved to the protected witness called by the defence last Friday. He described the two of them sparring and wrestling. He told police it happened during sex, but told the court it did not happen until afterwards.

At the time that Campbell died, Garnier experienced clouded vision, a noise in his head, and disassociation consistent with acute stress disorder, said Pink. Garnier also struggled to remember what happened in the days afterwards and at the time of his arrest.

"He was still confused and could not remember what happened," said Pink.

Pink rounded off his closing statements by referring to Garnier, who was himself a defence witness. He went over the events at the Alehouse on Sept. 11, 2015, where Garnier and Campbell met and started making out before taking a taxi back to 5714 McCully Street at about 3:30 a.m. He went over Garnier's version of events at the apartment. He said that they kissed, Campbell reached for his privates and asked Garnier about domination, adding that they could still play even if he didn't want to hook up. "And play they did," said Pink.

He alleges that Campbell encouraged Garnier to choke her and to slap her.

At no point did she ask him to stop, but Garnier would have if she did, Pink said.

Pink said that there were no bruises indicating a struggle and Campbell was a trained police officer. Garnier himself was not thinking clearly, as evidenced by his subsequent behaviour. Pink said that his client did not use his parked vehicle to dispose of Campbell's body in a more secluded area but instead disposed of it on foot and he was barefoot. "All the while, Mr. Garnier had his own vehicle at Mr. Devoe's residence," said Pink.

Garnier is facing one charge of second-degree murder and one of interfering with a dead body. For the second alleged offence, Pink said that Garnier has the defence of automatism, meaning he was not fully conscious of his actions.

"We are not here for vengeance. We are here for a just and proper resolution of this matter," said Pink as he finished his address to the jury.

Prosecutor Driscoll then gave her closing remarks now

"He murdered her and then he threw her away like garbage," said Driscoll to the jury. She said the forensic evidence speaks for itself "loud and clear," despite there being no video evidence inside the McCully Street apartment where the Crown alleges Garnier murdered Campbell. "It speaks to violence," she said.

The chief medical examiner said that Campbell died of strangulation and not erotic asphyxiation, according to Driscoll. Those findings matched the initial version of events that Garnier told to police after his arrest. "He told the truth in the first interview," said Driscoll.

Driscoll also said that Garnier was thinking clearly, despite the defence claiming otherwise. She pointed to how he got rid of his necklace as it may have DNA and also strive to dispose of the body before sunrise when people would leave for work and his friend Mitch Devoe would return home from a night in the drunk tank. In the space of 45 minutes, Driscoll said that Garnier killed Campbell, dragged her body outside, changed his clothes and looked for a bin to place the body in.

She added that Garnier also got rid of Campbell's phone, keys, shoes and ID as well as the mattress from the apartment that had her blood on it. "He was thinking and he was thinking quite clearly," said Driscoll.

As for his car that he did not use, Driscoll said that was because his trunk was full and the gas tank likely empty.

After he disposed of the body, Driscoll said that Garnier reconciled with his girlfriend Brittany Francis, attended his father's birthday celebration, sent jokey texts a friend Devoe and started a new job with no apparent issues noted by his boss. At this point he also made internet searches on the Cipralex medication and its relation to violence. He also put a tarp, rope, filled gas can and gloves in his girlfriend's vehicle.

"He comes up with a plan," said Driscoll.

He also took his passport, love letters and toiletries.

Driscoll said that at the time of Campbell's death, Garnier created a scenario that she died with him gone, hence is going to the bathroom to fetch the towel. Also, she said their faces were inches apart and he was leaning on her neck. "He's actually suggesting she killed herself, which is just ridiculous," she said.

Driscoll went on, saying that after Campbell died Garnier did not call 911 or perform first aid such as CPR.

"He picks her up, not worried about her neck."

Regarding the automatism defence (that Pink earlier said Garnier had against the interfering with a body charge) Driscoll said that it was a rare one and that Garnier knew exactly what he was doing with that green bin.

On the matter of erotic asphyxiation, Driscoll said that Dr. Stephen Hucker, who examined such cases, reported that nearly all the victims died alone. The one exception was a case where two nooses were used.

Driscoll then talked more about Garnier. He said that the summer of 2015 was a bad time for him as he was looking for a decent job, had financial issues like not being able to afford new brakes for his car, got into arguments and was dumped by his girlfriend Brittany Francis and was prescribed Cipralex, an anti-depressant. Just after Campbell died, he reconciled with his girlfriend and started a new job. At this point, he did an internet search in Cipralex and its relationship with violence, not on erotic asphyxiation gone wrong.

"He was violent and he was looking for an excuse as to why," said Driscoll.

She also said that his plan was to get rid of her body with the "cleanup kit," from his vehicle. Driscoll further said that Garnier "has concocted this story in an attempt to take all the responsibility off himself."

She rounded off her remarks by saying that "Her life is over and she was treated like trash."

And then she stood silently for two minutes.

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