Officer described 'bizarre' case in video played at Nicholas Butcher murder trial
Warning: This story and live blog contain graphic details
The Halifax police officer who arrested Nicholas Butcher said the accused murderer emerged from the house where Kristin Johnston was killed with his right hand severed, a throat wound, covered in caked-on blood and saying he was sorry.
"This is one of the most bizarre cases I've ever been on," Halifax Regional Police Sgt. Matthew MacGillvray said in a video statement that was played Thursday for a Halifax jury in Butcher's second-degree murder trial.
MacGillvray made the statement on Sept 5, 2017, about two months before he died of cancer. It's been admitted as evidence in Butcher's Nova Scotia Supreme Court trial.
The Crown alleges Butcher, 35, killed Johnston, 32, a Halifax yoga instructor who was his girlfriend, on March 26, 2016, because she was breaking off their relationship and he couldn't live without her. He has pleaded not guilty to murder.
In the video, MacGillvray said the 911 call came in shortly before 8 a.m. from a man who claimed to have killed his girlfriend and cut off his own hand.
MacGillvray and his partner arrived at the home in the Purcells Cove area about 90 seconds later, he said. There was no sign of anyone or any commotion, but MacGillvray took his rifle out of his car because the 911 call suggested the suspect was armed with a bladed weapon.
MacGillvray said he "hunkered down" behind a rock in front of the home while he waited for other officers to arrive. A short time after backup arrived the front door of the house opened and a man covered in dried blood came out.
Butcher followed police instructions and lay on the ground, MacGillvray said, and the officer stayed with him while waiting for the ambulance.
He said Butcher was lucid and was adamant that he was sorry. MacGillvray read the man his charter rights from memory while he kept his gun pointed at him.
Butcher was loaded into an ambulance and taken to hospital. On the way, he was screaming and asking for someone to call his mother, MacGillvray said.
MacGillvray stayed with Butcher at the hospital until 5 p.m. while Butcher underwent surgery to reattach his hand. MacGillvray was acting as a guard to make sure Butcher didn't try to escape.
At the end of the recording MacGillvray said he only had two to three weeks left to live, and hoped he would make it to court.
The jury has heard this week that Johnston was found dead in a bedroom of the home, a pillow over her face. Police officers have described how the bed sheets were soaked with blood, there was steak knife near her body and a severed hand near a power saw.
Blair Rhodes live blogged from court. Those on mobile can read here.