Accused appeared ‘calm’ after alleged killing, amputation: paramedics

HALIFAX — Paramedics have testified that Nicholas Butcher appeared “calm” as they treated his amputated right hand, moments after the law school graduate called 911 and told the dispatcher he had killed his girlfriend and tried to kill himself.

Paramedic Sean Collins told Butcher’s second-degree murder trial that he rode with Butcher, 35, in the back of an ambulance en route to hospital from Kristin Johnston’s Halifax-area home after her death.

Collins said Butcher appeared “upset, but calm,” noting there were lacerations on his neck and on the wrist of his remaining hand.

“He kept asking to call his mom,” said Collins.

Another paramedic, Sarah Grace Brown, described Butcher as appearing “relatively calm” after she arrived on the scene in Purcells Cove on the morning of March 26, 2016.

Brown said she was tasked with retrieving his hand, so she went to the house and asked police for it.

She said an officer told her it was part of the crime scene, but she reiterated she needed it, so the officer went and retrieved it for her.

Brown said she brought it to the ambulance, shielding it from members of the public who had started to gather outside the home.

She wrapped it in sterile gauze and then put it into a sterile bag.

Police officers have testified they found the body of the Montreal-born yoga instructor in the master bedroom of the home on a blood-soaked bed, next to a steak knife.

They testified that a mitre saw and an amputated hand were found nearby.

Butcher has pleaded not guilty.

Witnesses have testified that Butcher was living with Johnston, 32, at the time of her death, and that she had broken up with him hours earlier.

Harry Lehmann, who lived in a basement unit of Johnston’s house, testified he woke up around 4:30 a.m., and heard “shoes coming off” upstairs just after 5 a.m. He made an assumption that Johnston and Butcher had just arrived home.

“And then it was quiet after that,” said the 57-year-old man, who is from Winnipeg and was staying in Halifax for a few months at the time of Johnston’s death.

Lehmann says around 7 a.m. he decided to do laundry in their shared laundry and storage room.

About a half hour later, he heard someone coming down the stairwell and then rummaging in the storage room before hearing something dragging along the floor. He likened the sound to the prongs of a cord.

About five minutes later, he heard a “humming, mechanical” noise. He thought it sounded like a microwave.

Soon after that, he heard sirens, and then someone coming down the stairwell to his apartment. It was a police officer, who detained him.

He was released after being questioned by police, and said he learned of Johnston’s death on the news.

Follow (at)Aly Thomson on Twitter.

Aly Thsomon, The Canadian Press

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