Courtepatte killer also guilty of prostitute's murder

An Edmonton man who murdered 13-year-old Nina Courtepatte in 2005 was found guilty Monday of killing prostitute Ellie May Meyer just two days before the girl was slain.

An Edmonton man who murdered 13-year-old Nina Courtepatte in 2005 was found guilty Monday of killing prostitute Ellie May Meyer just two days before the girl was slain.

Joseph Laboucan pleaded not guilty at the opening of his trial Monday, but his lawyer said the defence did not dispute the Crown's case against him.

The Crown read a statement of facts Monday morning that described how Laboucan and two other people lured Meyer to a farmer's field near Fort Saskatchewan for sex, before she was beaten to death.

Ellie May Meyer was killed in a farmer's field east of Edmonton April 1, 2005. (Family photo)

Justice Sterling Sanderman quickly convicted Laboucan, 26, of first-degree murder and sentenced him to life in prison without parole for 25 years.

"This right now is still very surreal," Meyer's mother Evaneline said. "It all happened so fast. It was an excellent surprise yes, but very, very sudden."

Laboucan is already serving a life sentence for sexually assaulting and fatally beating Courtepatte, whose body was found at the Edmonton Springs Golf Resort on April 4, 2005.

She had been lured to the golf course by a group of teens and young adults from nearby West Edmonton Mall.

Needed money for cocaine

Two days before Courtepatte's murder, Laboucan, Michael Briscoe and Stephanie Bird picked up Meyer who was working as a prostitute on Edmonton's 118th Avenue to make money to buy crack cocaine, according the statement of facts.

Police search field where Meyer's body was found May 7, 2005. (CBC)

Once at the field where Meyer's body would later be found, Briscoe and Bird left the car so Laboucan could have sex with Meyer.

At some point, said Bird, her three companions ran by her, Meyer followed by Laboucan and Briscoe.

"She was running away from them," she said at the preliminary hearing. "It looked like they were hitting her."

The two men returned to the car.

Meyer, said Bird, was lying on the ground bloody, but still alive.

Promised not to tell of beating

Meyer told Bird she would not tell anyone what happened. Instead, she'd walk to the highway and tell anyone who asked that she had fallen.

Bird asked her if she could get up and Meyer said, "No."

Bird was sitting with Meyer as she struggled to breathe, when the two men came back and told Bird to go sit in the car.

A few minutes later the men returned without Meyer.

Her body would be discovered a month later.

An autopsy showed Meyer suffered a fatal blow to her head. It also showed the top of her left pinkie finger was missing and Laboucan's DNA was found on her body.

Two days later, Laboucan showed Meyer's finger, which he kept in a freezer between two pieces of bread, to a teenage girl in a motel room.  

It was that same day, April 3, 2005, Nina Courtepatte was brutally beaten to death.

Laboucan, Bird and the teenage girl have all been convicted in the Courtepatte killing. Briscoe is awaiting re-trial in that murder and is set to go to trial in Meyer's killing.

The two murders were linked not only in time, but in their resolution, said Crown prosecutor Douglas Taylor.

Without Laboucan's conviction in Courtepatte's murder, his DNA would not have entered the data bank and police would not have gotten the crucial link to Meyer's death, he said.   

That comforted Peacha Atkinson, Nina's mother, who was in the courtoom Monday. 

"At least [the Meyer family] didn't have sit through the testimony … how she died," said Atkinson. "I'm thankful ... they don't have to sit through that. 

"I wish [Laboucan] had done that to us."

Victim was generous, caring

A lifelong friend describes Meyer as a generous and caring person.

"All of us have made choices sometimes in life that have got us into a wrong place, wrong time or maybe something that we didn't want to do, but it doesn't make us bad people," said Melanie Houley.

"And she, above all people, was the first one to be giving and had a heart of gold," she said. "Even though maybe she didn't walk a path lined with gold, her heart was full of gold."

Laboucan's friend Michael Briscoe is also charged in the Meyer and Courtepatte slayings.

He will be tried separately for Meyer's death and is awaiting retrial in the Courtepatte case. 

With files from CBC's Janice Johnston