Leo Pantherbone admits to brutally beating Janel Squirrel until she died
Warning: Story contains graphic and disturbing details
Warning: Story contains graphic and disturbing details.
Exactly one year after police found Janel Squirrel's bruised and battered body in her boyfriend's bedroom, Leo Pantherbone pleaded guilty to manslaughter as members of his victim's family wept in the courtroom.
On Nov. 3, 2015, Pantherbone's sister called 911 at her brother's request. She told the operator Squirrel, 26, was not breathing and her body was cold and stiff.
The young woman's face was bloodied and responding officers noted Pantherbone's hands had blood stains on them. Right away, he admitted to police that he hit his girlfriend in the face.
"They are going to put me away for a long time," Pantherbone told police, according to an agreed statement of facts read aloud in court on Thursday.
Beaten with a broom handle
But Squirrel's injuries were much more extensive than a punch to the face. Evidence suggests Patherbone began using Squirrel as a punching bag at least one day before her body was found.
Squirrel had been brutalized — punched, beaten with a broom handle and strangled.
After he was arrested, Pantherbone told his cellmate that alcohol was responsible for his troubles. He said he had been sober for 18 months but had begun drinking again in the week leading up to killing his girlfriend.
An autopsy found Squirrel died of multiple blunt force trauma and strangulation.
Squirrel had injuries to her head, neck, stomach, back, arms and legs. She suffered broken ribs, a broken sternum and multiple hemorrhages. Her liver was torn and bruises on her back and legs appeared to have been made when she was beaten with a broom handle with Squirrel's DNA on it. It was found broken into three pieces in the apartment.
Beating started day before body found
Investigators found blood on the door trim, several walls, carpet, clothing and on the bed.
The day before she was killed, Squirrel asked a friend to drive her from Pantherbone's home to her mother's to get money. The friend asked why Squirrel's face was swollen and Pantherbone said he hit her because she had returned to an ex-boyfriend.
Provincial Court Judge Harry Van Harten accepted Pantherbone's guilty plea that was arranged by Crown prosecutor Darren Maloney and defence lawyer Darren Mahoney.
Pre-sentence reports have been ordered, including a psychiatric evaluation and a Gladue report, which is designed to examine an Aboriginal offender's background.
A sentencing hearing will take place next March.
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