Nicholas Butcher arrives at provincial court in Halifax on Tuesday, April 12, 2016. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Nicholas Butcher found guilty of second-degree murder of yoga instructor

12-member Nova Scotia Supreme Court jury delivered verdict Saturday after five hours of deliberation

A jury has found Nicholas Butcher guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Montreal-born yoga instructor Kristin Johnston.

The 12-member Nova Scotia Supreme Court jury delivered its verdict Saturday after five hours of deliberation.

Butcher showed no emotion as the verdict was read.

Butcher was charged with second-degree murder after police found Johnston’s body on a blood-soaked bed inside her Halifax-area home next to a steak knife on March 26, 2016.

WARNING: Graphic content. Audio of a 911 call Nicholas Butcher made in March 2016 has been played in a Halifax court.

The jury heard that Butcher and Johnston were in a relationship at the time of her death, and lived together at her home in Purcells Cove.

The Crown argued that Butcher deliberately killed Johnston after realizing their relationship was deteriorating, but the defence had argued Butcher was acting in self-defence after she attacked him.

Crown lawyer Carla Ball suggested Butcher stabbed Johnston to death and then tried to kill himself with the same knife before cutting off his right hand with a mitre saw.

In her closing arguments, Ball said: “He decided that if he could not have Kristin Johnston, no one else could have her.”

Defence lawyer Peter Planetta told the jury that Butcher did not intend to kill Johnston.

Planetta said Johnston got a knife as Butcher slept and stabbed him in the neck, and that he was acting in self-defence when he fought back.

The trial has heard Butcher called 911 and told the dispatcher he had killed his girlfriend and tried to kill himself. He cut off his right hand with a mitre saw, but it was surgically reattached.

Medical examiner Dr. Marnie Wood testified that Johnston’s death was caused by sharp force injuries, and that she had “defensive injuries” on her hands and fingers.

The jury heard from 32 witnesses over 14 court days.

The Canadian Press

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