Court told accused had chance to warn others, back out
A young woman charged with first-degree murder in the sex killing of Nina Courtepatte had plenty of chances to run away before the 13-year-old met her death on a muddy golf course, a prosecutor argued Monday.
During closing arguments in the latest of several trials stemming from the killing, John Watson said the accused not only kept quiet about the plan for two days, but also struck the first blow and held Courtepatte down while she was raped.
"This was not an impulsive killing," Watson said. "[The accused] had ample time to consider this plan, the plan being to kill someone. Fifteen blows to the head can only have one intent, and that is death."
The accused can't be named because she was 17 at the time of the killing.
In a crime that horrified Edmonton and drew national headlines, Courtepatte and a friend were lured from West Edmonton Mall by the promise of a party. They were driven to a dark golf course on the western outskirts of the city, where Nina was raped and bludgeoned to death by a group of self-described "mall rats" on a fourth-hole fairway.
One young offender has already pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the April 2005 slaying.
Last month, Joseph Laboucan, 21,of Fort St. John, B.C., was sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder, aggravated sexual assault and kidnapping of Courtepatte. A second man, Michael Briscoe, 36, of Edmonton, told police he was simply swept along in the events and was acquitted in the same trial.
Laboucan is appealing his conviction, while the Crown is appealing Briscoe's acquittal.
A third trial, of another underage female, is scheduled for later this spring.
In his closing arguments, Watson pointed to evidence that suggested Laboucan had told the accused the day before the murder of his plan to kill someone. The girl warned no one about the plan — not her guardians, not the police and, worst of all, not Courtepatte, Watson said.
As well, the accused participated by helping Laboucan select his victim and by talking up the non-existent party that got Courtepatte and her friend into Briscoe's car, Watson said.
'Integral part' of killing: Crown
Court also heard the accused took the first swing at Courtepatte with a large wrench that she had brought with her, hidden in her sleeve. The blow was hard enough to knock Courtepatte off balance. The accused also held Nina's legs down as Laboucan raped her, court was told.
"She is an integral part of the killing of Nina Courtepatte," Watson argued.
Watson acknowledged the accused escorted Courtepatte's friend back to Briscoe's car and wasn't present when Courtepatte was actually killed, but he said that doesn't lessen her complicity.
Nor does it appear Laboucan terrorized her into going along with the killing, Watson said.
In contrast to the high-profile trial of Laboucan and Briscoe, often conducted before a packed courthouse, the latest trial has been held in relative obscurity.
Only two spectators were on hand Monday to listen to Watson's arguments. One of them was Peacha Atkinson, Courtepatte's mother.