Edmonton

Alberta Court of Appeal orders new trial in Courtepatte slaying

The Court of Appeal of Alberta has ordered a new trial for Joseph Laboucan, who was convicted of first-degree murder, aggravated sexual assault and kidnapping in the 2005 slaying of 13-year-old Nina Courtepatte.

The Court of Appeal of Alberta has ordered a new trial for Joseph Laboucan, who was convicted of first-degree murder, aggravated sexual assault and kidnapping in the 2005 slaying of 13-year-old Nina Courtepatte.

Laboucan's appeal of his March 2007 conviction was heard in June. The ruling was released on Tuesday.

Courtepatte's beaten and bruised body was found on a golf course outside Edmonton in April 2005.

In a 2-1 decision, the Court of Appeal ruled the trial judge erred when he was assessing Laboucan's credibility as a witness.

Laboucan was accused of being the ringleader of a group of mall rats, who allegedly picked Courtepatte out of a crowd at West Edmonton Mall, and lured her to the golf course.

During the trial, Laboucan testified in his own defence, saying he was present during the sexual assault and killing of Courtepatte, but he denied being a participant.

The appeal court judges' decision was the right one, according to Laboucan's trial lawyer, Laurie Wood.

"Mr. Laboucan took the stand and he gave what I believe to be true and clear evidence that he in fact was not involved in this matter other than being there and he froze during the actual act of the killing of Nina Courtepatte,"  Wood said Tuesday.

The Crown is reviewing the ruling, and may appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, according to Alberta Justice spokesperson David Dear.

With files from the Canadian Press

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