N.S. man pleads guilty to killing common-law wife, her daughter
Michael MacDonald, THE CANADIAN PRESS
Published Thursday, September 29, 2016 12:35PM ADT
Last Updated Thursday, September 29, 2016 5:08PM ADT
HALIFAX -- In his suicide note, Gerald Rushton said he loved his common-law wife and her daughter.
The Nova Scotia man wrote the note after he killed both of them in 2013 -- using a claw hammer to bludgeon the younger woman and a bat to beat her mother -- but his suicide attempt failed.
On Thursday, Rushton pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder.
He admitted in an agreed statement of facts that on Dec. 27, 2013, he got into a heated argument with his wife's daughter, 24-year-old Brittany MacPherson, who was visiting the family home in Bible Hill, a hour's drive north of Halifax.
The statement says the young woman became agitated and verbally abusive before Rushton hit her repeatedly with a baseball bat that had a paperback book taped to the end. She died at the scene from head injuries.
Later that day, 53-year-old Elizabeth MacPherson -- Rushton's partner for 15 years -- returned home. He hit MacPherson with a hammer and she fell to the floor, where he hit her again, court heard.
MacPherson, a nurse with the Victorian Order of Nurses, died from "blunt force injury to the head." But the statement of facts says Rushton also used a knife to cut her throat.
Rushton then attempted suicide by cutting his own throat and left wrist.
In a suicide note, he apologized for his weaknesses and declared that he loved both women.
"I'm tired of seeing Elizabeth hurt and giving so much and getting so little in return," the note says. "Lord, take them please."
Rushton's note also makes a plea for his dog.
"Will you please put my dog down and burn him with me. He is innocent and has been a wonderful dog."
Police say Rushton called 911 and left the line open. When officers arrived at the home on Pictou Road, they found Rushton's white husky barking at them, its face spattered with blood.
Inside the house, they discovered Rushton laying partially on his dead wife, both of them surrounded by a large pool of blood.
Three days after Rushton was arrested and charged, he again attempted suicide by deliberately falling backwards from a second-floor balcony at a provincial jail in the Halifax area.
He is facing an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 10 years. A judge will determine his exact parole eligibility period, which could be up to 25 years, when he returns to court on Nov. 15.