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Kenneth Courtorielle found guilty of manslaughter in death of Billie Johnson

An Alberta man has been convicted in the death of his girlfriend nearly three years ago.

Kenneth Courtorielle was found guilty of manslaughter on Monday in the death of Billie Johnson.

The 30-year-old Edmonton woman was last seen on Dec. 24, 2020, after taking a taxi from her mother's house to the apartment she shared with her boyfriend, Courtorielle.

Courtorielle was arrested on Feb. 9, 2021, and charged with second-degree murder and indignity to a human body.

Johnson's skull, lower jawbone, and three arm bones were found on April 21, 2021, in a wooded area 37 kilometres north of Edmonton near Bon Accord.

At his trial this spring, Courtorielle pleaded guilty to indignity to body, but denied killing Johnson, claiming she died of a cocaine overdose.

He said he dumped Johnson's body because he was on parole at the time of her death and he was afraid he'd go back to jail.

In his decision, Justice S.D. Hillier said he didn't believe Courtorielle's account that Johnson had died of an overdose because it was inconsistent with blood evidence found in the apartment and because Courtorielle had repeatedly lied to police during the investigation.

"I reject any assertion that Ms. Johnson may have died of a drug overdose causing a pulmonary hemorrhage or otherwise. I have no doubt in that regard," Hillier wrote in his decision.

"I am instead convinced from the evidence that Ms. Johnson died as a result of one or more blows to her face by the accused."

Johnson's mother spoke outside the court after Courtorielle's conviction.

"You took my daughter’s last struggling breaths. You see her die. And I hope that every morning when you wake up that you see that," Marless Johnson told reporters.

The maximum penalty for manslaughter is life in prison, with minimum penalties ranging from four to seven years.

A sentencing date has not been set.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's David Ewasuk Top Stories

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