Fred Prosser found guilty of first-degree murder
Published Tuesday, December 4, 2012 11:40AM AST
Last Updated Tuesday, December 4, 2012 7:12PM AST
Sobs could be heard throughout a Moncton courtroom as Fred Prosser was found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of his former girlfriend.
A jury convicted Prosser, 33, of strangling Sabrina Patterson, 25, Tuesday morning in Moncton provincial court.
Prosser was also found guilty of sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault causing bodily harm in connection with the case.
The two-week trial brings a two-year ordeal to a close for the Patterson family.
“You’re hoping to hear that, you’re wishing to hear that,” says the victim’s brother, Dale Patterson, of the guilty verdicts. “Then again, you’re numb at the same time.”
“It allows us to kind of start the healing process from it,” says Denise Murphy, sister of the victim.
“We’re not going to be running back and forth to court every two or three months, having things postponed and having to live this nightmare over and over again.”
The jury, consisting of seven women and five men, began deliberations Monday afternoon and spent the night sequestered at a hotel in Moncton.
They deliberated for a total of ten-and-a-half hours over two days.
Crown attorney Annie St. Jacques says she wasn’t surprised, given the volume of evidence they had to consider.
“There were also two sex assault charges, so it’s something very serious,” says St. Jacques. “It’s absolutely normal to take the time they need.”
Judge George Rideout wasted little time in handing down a sentence after the verdicts were read.
The first-degree murder conviction carries an automatic sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.
Prosser was also sentenced to five years for sexual assault, and seven years for aggravated sexual assault causing bodily harm.
“We were told it could happen. We could give a victim impact statement, but it would prolong it,” says Dale Patterson. “Where it was first-degree with sexual assault, the sentence is automatically life.”
Patterson, a mother of two, was reported missing on Oct. 29, 2010.
Her body was found about a week later, on Nov. 6, in a wooded area of Shenstone, N.B, near Prosser’s home.
Patterson and Prosser had an on-again, off-again relationship for several years.
During the trial, the Crown argued Prosser had sexually assaulted and strangled Patterson before dumping her body in the woods.
The Crown also told the court Patterson’s blood had been found on Prosser’s jeans and that her clothes were found in a cooler under a car bumper outside Prosser's home, five months after her body was found.
However, defence lawyer Scott Fowler argued police had searched and photographed the area several times. He also alleged his client was in custody when Patterson’s body was dumped on land belonging to the Prosser family.
Prosser was arrested on Nov. 4, two days before Patterson’s body was found.
The Crown called about 40 witnesses to the stand during the course of the two-week trial, including a forensic pathologist who performed an autopsy on the victim.
Dr. Kalman Protzner confirmed Patterson was strangled and also told the court she was likely raped.
Now that the trial is over, the Patterson family says they can finally move on.
They will continue raising Patterson’s two young children and also plan to carry on with a fundraising marathon they started two years ago, with proceeds going to help victims of domestic abuse.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jonathan MacInnis