Curtis Bonnell found guilty of murder in death of 16-year-old cousin

MIRAMICHI, N.B. – A New Brunswick man has been found guilty of killing his 16-year-old cousin.

A jury found Curtis Bonnell guilty of first-degree murder at the Court of Queen’s Bench in Miramichi after deliberating for about six and a half hours late Friday and early Saturday.

Members of the victim’s family cheered and wept openly in court as the verdict was read.

During the six-week trial, the Crown alleged Bonnell, 32, picked up the girl while driving on a rural stretch of road, sexually assaulted her and killed her.

Prosecutor Bill Richards told the court that Bonnell buried her body near an old firing range to avoid detection.

The girl’s disappearance from the Esgenoopetitj First Nation on Sept. 5, 2009, sparked an extensive search and gripped the native community for two months.

Bonnell was arrested on Nov. 8, 2009, and led police to the burial site the next day.

During subsequent interviews with police that were entered as evidence, Bonnell told officers that he fought with Hilary, sexually assaulted her and killed her.

But during the trial, Bonnell offered a different version of events.

He testified that he woke up on Sept. 5, 2009, after a night of alcohol and drugs to find Hilary dead next to him in his pickup truck. He said he didn’t know how she died, but panicked and buried her.

Bonnell said police filled his head with what they believed happened, and he just told them what he thought they wanted to hear.