ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — A Newfoundland mother sobbed Friday after a jury convicted her estranged husband of first-degree murder in the death of their five-year-old daughter.
The jury returned Friday afternoon with the verdict against Trent Butt — it carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.
It prompted cheers and sobs in the packed courtroom in provincial supreme court in St. John’s, N.L.
His estranged wife, Andrea Gosse, tearfully hugged family members, friends and Crown lawyers, as others wiped away tears.
“It felt like it took forever, but we got justice for Quinn,” Gosse said between sobs, a memorial pin over her heart showing her daughter’s smiling face.
“I can’t explain it, I have never felt this type of emotion in my life,” she said. “But this is what he chose to do to our life.”
The Crown had argued that Butt killed Quinn in 2016 in a calculated plan to inflict suffering on Gosse.
Surrounded by her family on the courthouse steps, Gosse said she hopes the verdict brings changes that could help the next child like her daughter.
Gosse said the verdict may not mean closure for her right away, but she sees it as a new chapter to grieve and talk about her daughter’s death, now that the emotional trial is over.
Butt will be sentenced April 23. He had previously pleaded guilty to arson, having set his Carbonear, N.L., home on fire after the murder.
Crown prosecutor Lloyd Strickland said the guilty verdict offers some relief in the tragic case, the disturbing details laid out over the course of the highly publicized trial.
“There’s no happiness to be taken from any of this,” Strickland said. “The verdict doesn’t obviously take away the pain and it doesn’t bring Quinn back, but I suppose there’s satisfaction knowing this stage, the trial stage, is over.”
No one at the murder trial disputed that Butt killed their daughter Quinn at his home in April 2016, before attempting to take his own life. The jury was asked to decide whether the death was planned and deliberate, which would mean Butt was guilty of first-degree murder, or if he was guilty of a lesser charge.
Butt testified at trial that he did not remember killing Quinn, but said he found himself over her body and concluded he must have suffocated her.
The jury, which began deliberations Thursday, had asked Friday to hear Butt’s testimony again, and to view a security video taken from his house.
The video from the night in question showed Butt moving his truck and later putting something in it. Quinn’s voice is heard on the tape after Butt moved the truck.
In closing arguments on Thursday, the Crown pointed to the security video as evidence that the killing was premeditated. The Crown noted that Butt moved the truck before Quinn was killed, suggesting he had been planning to set fire to his home, presumably with Quinn inside.
Butt left a suicide note in the truck saying he had killed Quinn and himself to keep her apart from her mother.
The story has haunted the small province in the nearly three years since Quinn’s death.
The provincial RCMP issued a statement Friday expressing condolences to the family and commending the work of first responders who worked on the difficult case.
“The local volunteer firefighters who were among the first on scene, the paramedics, the health professionals at Carbonear General Hospital – you all were outstanding and provided professional and compassionate care during a very difficult and emotional time,” the statement from Cpl. Peter Gosse read.
After Friday’s verdict, Butt faced the judge, a few feet away from Gosse and the crowd gathered behind him in the courtroom.
Gosse said she had little left to say to Butt after the conviction.
“What else to say? Was it worth it?”
Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press
Leaders, moderators confirmed for 2019 English, French debates
OTTAWA — Five party leaders have confirmed they will participate in two major televised election debates in October, the media group producing the events announced Tuesday.
The Canadian Debate Production Partnership said Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh, Green party Leader Elizabeth May and the Bloc Quebecois’ Yves-Francois Blanchet will all attend the English debate Oct. 7 and the French one Oct. 10.
Both events are to be held at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que. Election day is Oct. 21.
The Leaders’ Debates Commission, an independent body set up to organize the debates this year, sent invitations to the five confirmed leaders last week but did not offer a spot to Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party of Canada.
The PPC did not meet criteria established by the federal government for participation in the debates, the commission found. But the commission gave the party until Sept. 9 to provide further evidence that they have a chance at winning multiple seats in the fall, which could earn Bernier a spot at the events.
In its announcement Tuesday, the partnership also revealed the moderators for the English debate: CBC’s Rosemary Barton, Susan Delacourt of the Toronto Star, Global’s Dawna Friesen, CTV’s Lisa LaFlamme and Althia Raj of HuffPost Canada.
Patrice Roy of Radio-Canada will moderate the French debate, along with journalists from French outlets Le Devoir, Le Soleil, La Presse and L’Actualite.
Also on Tuesday, Maclean’s magazine announced it will partner with Citytv to hold a debate Sept. 12 in Toronto. Maclean’s said leaders for the Tories, NDP and Greens have confirmed their participation so far.
“The Liberals have not yet confirmed Justin Trudeau’s participation but an invitation remains open and the debate will go forward regardless,” the magazine said in a post on its website.
Columnist Paul Wells will moderate the debate, which will focus on the economy, foreign policy, Indigenous issues, and energy and the environment.
The Sept. 12 date makes the Maclean’s event the first major debate in the election period, though it remains unclear precisely when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to officially fire the starting gun. The latest he can do so is Sept. 15.
Christian Paas-Lang, The Canadian Press
Music composer from France killed by bear while working in northern Canada
YELLOWKNIFE — A Canadian composer living in France has been killed while working in the Northwest Territories.
French media reports say Julien Gauthier was attacked last week by a bear.
The RCMP did not name the victim but said the body of a man was found on Friday after a bear attack near Tulita along the Mackenzie River.
The Brittany Symphony Orchestra in northwest France posted a statement on Facebook announcing the death of its associate artist.
The symphony said Gauthier had been collecting sounds in the remote region and was travelling with a researcher he had met in the Antarctic.
The post said Gauthier wanted to use music to show his love and respect for nature.
“His work was faithful to his inquisitive mind, humble in front of the vast power and beauty of nature,” said the post written by Marc Feldman, a manager with the symphony.
“I am extremely happy to have known Julien. He brought me a sense of adventure, wonder and a rare intelligence. I am going to miss him terribly. We still had so much road to travel together.”
Gauthier’s web page says he also taught music at the Gennevilliers Conservatory and worked with the Paris Philharmonic.
The Canadian Press
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