Accused murderer told dispatcher he killed girlfriend, chopped own hand off
Published Tuesday, April 10, 2018 10:19AM ADT Last Updated Tuesday, April 10, 2018 11:03PM ADT
HALIFAX -- The body of Montreal-born yoga instructor Kristin Johnston was found on a blood-soaked bed next to a steak knife, a mitre saw and Nicholas Butcher's severed hand, a Halifax jury heard Tuesday.
The Crown has alleged the law school graduate killed Johnston and tried to kill himself inside her Halifax-area home on the morning of March 26, 2016.
Responding officers told the jury they found Johnston's lifeless body in the master bedroom, her head covered with a pillow and a black-handled steak knife lying beside her.
On the floor was a mitre saw, and an amputated hand, the jury heard.
Minutes earlier, Butcher had frantically told a 911 dispatcher he had killed his girlfriend and tried to kill himself.
The dispatcher, Jordan Masters, took the stand before the call was played for the 14-member Nova Scotia Supreme Court jury.
Butcher, 35, was breathing heavily as he told Masters on the call he had killed his girlfriend and had cut off his hand.
"I killed my girlfriend. I tried to kill myself. I cut off my hand. I need help," said Butcher, whose lawyer Peter Planetta confirmed it was his client's voice on the call.
The dispatcher repeatedly asked Butcher to identify himself, but the caller never responded, often replying with, "I'm dying."
During the call, Butcher gasped, wailed, sobbed and, at times, sounded like he was vomiting.
"No," he cried. "Oh God."
Eventually, the call was lost. The dispatcher tried to call the number back twice. "You have reached -- Nick Butcher," the voicemail message said.
Friends of Johnston, 32, could be heard sniffling as the call was played loudly over courtroom speakers.
Butcher, wearing a navy suit and glasses, sat quietly at his lawyer's bench and stared forward.
Halifax police Const. Ray Turner was one of the first officers on the scene after the 911 call came in.
Turner told the jury that when he arrived, a shirtless man wearing pyjama pants came out of the front door of the house in Purcells Cove.
The officer said he told the man to put his hands up, and the suspect complied. Turner said he noticed the man appeared to be missing his right hand.
Turner said he was surprised there wasn't more blood.
"He seemed to be conscious and aware," he said.
Turner said he eventually entered the house and saw a trail of blood leading down a hallway. He followed the trail to the master bedroom at the end of the hall.
"We located a female on the bed ... pillow over her head, lying on her back, yoga pants on, bedsheets to the right of her and to the left saturated in blood ... what appeared to be a steak knife," he said.
Turner said another officer called out to her, but there was no answer.
Also found in the bedroom was a mitre saw and a severed hand, he said.
Paramedic Jessica Dipasquale, who was also on scene that morning, testified that Butcher's injury was a "clean slice."
She said Butcher was saying: "Help me. I don't want to die. Call my mom."
A doctor who treated Butcher in the hospital testified Butcher also had penetrating wounds to his neck.
Dr. Genevieve McKinnon, an anaesthesiologist, said Butcher was conscious as she was helping him with his airway, and he told her several times he had "messed up."
She said he didn't elaborate, but appeared "remorseful."
The trial continues Wednesday.