Cop killer to be sentenced ahead of appeal claiming ‘false’ confession

HALIFAX — A Halifax man who murdered an off-duty police officer faces sentencing Monday, even as he fights to have his conviction overturned in part because he says police interview tactics elicited a false confession.

Christopher Garnier, 30, was convicted of second-degree murder and interfering with a dead body in December after a jury found that he punched and strangled Catherine Campbell, 36, and used a compost bin to dump her body.

The conviction carries an automatic life sentence, but a hearing to determine when Garnier will be able to apply for parole is set for Monday. Crown lawyer Carla Ball has confirmed that victim impact statements have been filed as part of the sentencing hearing.

Garnier and Campbell had met hours before the 2015 killing at a Halifax bar; Garnier has suggested that she died accidentally during rough sex.

Garnier is appealing his conviction on a number of grounds, including that Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Joshua Arnold erred in not allowing opinion evidence from a cognitive psychologist on whether a statement Garnier gave police was free and voluntary.

In a voir dire decision released after the trial, Arnold notes that Garnier asserted ”his confession was false and that this false statement was the product of faulty police interrogation techniques.”

During a nine-hour recorded interview with police, Garnier said he punched Campbell and had his hands around her throat as she was choking, but he repeatedly said he could not remember other details from that night. He exercised his right to remain silent 64 times.

The defence had wanted to call Dr. Timothy Moore — chairman of the Psychology Department at York University’s Glendon College — to testify at the trial about how interrogation techniques and tactics affect memory, and his opinion about the truthfulness of Garnier’s statement.

Arnold ultimately ruled against allowing Moore to testify in that regard.

Parole ineligibility for second-degree murder must be set between 10 and 25 years.

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