A Yellowknife jury has found a 19-year-old Fort Good Hope man guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Charlotte Lafferty.
Lafferty, 23, was found beaten to death the morning of March 22, 2014, near Fort Good Hope's seniors' complex. The accused was 17 years old at the time of Lafferty's death. His name cannot be published under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
The jury deliberated for just under six hours before reaching its verdict. Both Lafferty's mother and the mother of the accused man wept as the verdict was read and the accused man's mother left the courtroom sobbing shortly after.
It was the verdict Lafferty's parents and relatives were looking for.
"It changed everything," said Rudolph Kochon, Lafferty's father.
"It gave us the answers we needed and we're going to start dealing with our healing and stuff like that."
The accused man was charged with first-degree murder because Lafferty was also sexually assaulted during the attack.
On Wednesday, defence lawyer Charles Davison said in his closing statement that the verdict would rest on the issue of identity. He said his client was not the person who killed Lafferty. Davison argued the accused walked through the crime scene right after the attack and made the mistake of picking up the stick used in the beating just as the RCMP arrived on the scene.
Crown prosecutor Annie Piche said in her statement that there's no doubt the accused beat Charlotte Lafferty to death. He was the last person to be seen with her when she was alive, his DNA was found on the stick used in the attack and Lafferty's DNA was found on his belt, one of his shoes and in bloodstains on the walls of his girlfriend's house.
The seven women and five men on the jury heard two weeks of testimony from 34 witnesses and saw more than 60 exhibits.
During the trial the jury heard that the accused man was under court orders to obey a curfew and not consume alcohol.
What the jury didn't hear was that those conditions were part of a sentence the youth received for assault causing bodily harm. He and several others repeatedly kicked and stomped on a man's head, and the victim had to be medevaced for treatment.