Christopher Garnier loses appeal of murder conviction

Christopher Garnier has lost the appeal of his second-degree murder conviction for killing off-duty police officer Catherine Campbell in September 2015.

In a decision released on Thursday, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal ruled the trial judge charged the jury correctly.

“The trial judge set out the correct legal principles about the intersection of voluntariness and [Garnier’s] right to remain silent and committed no error in his application of the law to his clear factual findings,” the decision said.

Garnier was found guilty in December 2018.

He killed 36-year-old Campbell after meeting her at a downtown Halifax bar. The bar’s security cameras captured their encounter and the video was played for the jury during his trial.

The two eventually ended up at Garnier’s friend’s house on McCully Street in Halifax. Less than an hour later, surveillance footage showed Garnier putting Campbell’s body in a green bin.

Campbell’s body was dumped in a wooded area near the Macdonald Bridge.

Police started looking for Campbell when she didn’t show up to work on Monday. They were able to trace her final movements by using security videos.

Why appeal was lost

Garnier was arrested after he went back to the area where Campbell’s body had been dumped. Police interrogated him for more than eight hours before he started talking about how Campbell died.

Garnier’s lawyer had argued the interrogation should have been ruled inadmissible. He told the appeal panel that Garnier tried to invoke his right to remain silent more than 40 times during the interrogation, but police kept pressuring him to talk.

But the court’s decision stated Garnier’s trial counsel did not request a jury charge around false confessions and noted one was not required.

The decision also stated the judge’s charge was not “marred by reversible error on the extensive evidence of after-the fact conduct” and Garnier’s partial defence of “non-insane automatism, nor with respect to the elements of unlawful act homicide.”

It said Garnier’s trial counsel “was fully engaged in ensuring his client’s defence was fully brought out in the jury charge” and that the trial judge didn’t “‘double count’ the aggravating factors on parole ineligibility and the concurrent sentence for improper interference with human remains.”