Christopher Garnier wrote a letter to Catherine Campbell's family during an interview with police hours after he was arrested in the off-duty police officer's death, court heard Thursday.
In the letter – read aloud by an officer during the interrogation video being shown to the jury at his murder trial – Garnier wrote that it was his “darkest moment.”
“If I could give my own life to get hers back, I would,” Garnier wrote in the letter read by RCMP Cpl. Jody Allison in the video, as members of Campbell's family watched from the gallery. Campbell, a Truro police officer, grew up in Stellarton, where she also served as a volunteer firefighter.
The Crown alleges Garnier punched and strangled Campbell in an apartment in the early hours of Sept. 11, 2015, and used a compost bin to dispose of her body near Halifax's Macdonald Bridge.
Garnier has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and interfering with a dead body.
The 30-year-old was arrested by police early on Sept. 16, 2015, around the same time Campbell's body was found face down in thick brush. He was interviewed by police later that day.
Garnier cried throughout much of the taped interview as he told an interrogator he saw blood on Campbell's face and heard her final breaths.
Garnier said in the tape that he was "stressed out" at the time of the incident but did not say whether he was specifically angry at Campbell at the time of her death.
"No wonder you couldn't sleep on the weekend," replied Allison in the tape.
After roughly 8.5 hours of the 9.5-hour-long interrogation, Garnier was left alone in the room with a pen and piece of paper.
He can be seen taking a long drink of water, hugging his arms into his stomach and gazing toward the floor before picking up the pen.
Garnier, who later told the officers the letter was addressed to Campbell's family, wrote, “I never wanted this to happen” and “I don't expect you to forgive me for what happened, so I won't ask for forgiveness.”
Last week, the defence put forth a hypothetical scenario suggesting the 36-year-old Campbell died during a consensual sexual encounter after encouraging Garnier to choke her.
Garnier repeatedly told police during the interview that he couldn't remember why Campbell's face was bloody.
Later in the interrogation, Det. Const. Michelle Dooks-Fahie asked about the reasons he heard “two gasps” before she died.
“My hands… on her neck,” Garnier responded.
He was then asked to describe how his hands were on Campbell's neck, and held his hands out in front of him, his fingers fanned out and his thumbs touching.
During cross-examination defence lawyer Joel Pink noted that Garnier tried to invoke his right to silence/wish not to speak on lawyer's advice on 64 occasions.
He added that his client had only some fast food and likely limited rest. He was arrested at 1:27 a.m. on Sept. 16 and began his interview at 1:02 p.m. for 9 hours and 24 minutes, ending at 10:26 p.m. Pink also questioned how truthful Allison's remarks to Garnier (reassurances that he was not a monster for example) were. Allison said that they were truthful.
The Crown alleges that Garnier punched and strangled Campbell inside an apartment on McCully Street and dumped her body on a steep embankment near Halifax’s Macdonald Bridge in the early hours of Sept. 11, 2015.
The trial will continue on Monday in Halifax.