Trial begins for fourth person charged in girl's death
The mother of a 13-year-old girl slain on a golf course told an Edmonton court her daughter was a strong-willed, caring youth who dreamed of being a model or an actress.
"She liked to draw and sing," Peacha Atkinson said of her daughter Nina Courtepatte.
"She was a fun-loving, caring person. She would always look out for her brothers or sisters. She would fight for their rights."
Atkinson was testifying Monday on the opening day of the trialofa 19-year-old woman who can't be named under theYouth Criminal Justice Act because she was 17 when Courtepatte's body was discovered in April 2005.
The woman is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated sexual assault and kidnapping in Courtepatte's death.
The accused sat quietly in court showing no emotion. Before Atkinson's testimony began, the youngwomansaid "not guilty" three times in a voice barely above a whisper as the charges were read in court.
Courtepattehad been a Grade 7 student at an Edmonton junior high school, but had temporarily withdrawn to attend a program for young people on "how to control their attitude," said her mother.
"She was assertive. Strong-voiced," said Atkinson.
The night she was killed was Courtepatte'ssecond away from home that week. Atkinson said her husband had given Nina the OK to stay with a friend on the nights of both April 1 and April 2.
The last time Atkinson saw her daughter was the morning of April 1, when she stepped into Nina's bedroom to rub her cheek as a goodbye before she left for work.
Five people charged
A total of five people faced the same charges as the accused.
Ayoung man, who can't be named because he is a young offender,has already pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in Courtepatte's death.
Joseph Laboucan, 21, and Michael Briscoe, 36, are currently awaiting verdicts, expected March 23,in their recenttrial.
A fifth defendant, a young woman, is scheduled to be tried this year.
With files from Canadian Press