POLITICS

Man accused of killing 16-year-old cousin says he doesn't know how she died

10/29/2012 02:08 EDT | Updated 12/29/2012 05:12 EST
MIRAMICHI, N.B. - A New Brunswick man accused of killing his 16-year-old cousin three years ago testified Monday that he woke up after a night of alcohol and drugs to find her dead next to him in his pickup truck.

Curtis Wayne Bonnell, who has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, told his trial in Miramichi that he had been drinking heavily and using cocaine on the night of Sept. 4, 2009, after having an argument with his girlfriend.

Bonnell, 32, said he began drinking at his home on the Esgenoopetitj First Nation in northern New Brunswick and moved to a bar in nearby Neguac where he snorted cocaine.

"I don't know how many times," he told the jury. "I was pretty drunk.

"I also had pills on me ... I don't know what all I took."

Bonnell said he blacked out and woke up the next morning parked outside a property his family owned in the community of Tabusintac, where he noticed someone was slumped over in the seat beside him.

The person fell onto the ground when he opened the passenger door, and he realized it was his cousin Hilary, he said.

Bonnell told the Court of Queen's Bench he doesn't know what happened to her. He said her body was lifeless and cold, and she seemed stiff when he tried to move her.

"I don't know how she got in my truck. I don't know how she died."

At that point, Judge Fred Ferguson warned people in the courtroom — some of whom are relatives of both Hilary and Curtis Bonnell — to remain silent as he continued his testimony.

He said he panicked and loaded her body into the back of the truck.

"I drove to the woods. I drove fast," he said. "My mind is going a mile a minute."

He said he left her body next to a tree, drank beer and snorted cocaine before driving home.

He said he fell asleep but began to worry what animals might do to her body, so he drove back the next day and buried her body deeper into the woods.

"I picked her up and set her next to the hole and I rolled her in," he said, adding that he covered her body with dirt before driving away.

Hilary's disappearance gripped the native community and triggered a massive search in the area.

Curtis Bonnell said Monday he was taken into custody by the RCMP on Nov. 8, 2009, five days before her body was found. He was charged Dec. 8, 2009.

The Crown, which wrapped up its case last week, alleges that Curtis Bonnell picked Hilary up while driving on a rural stretch of road, sexually assaulted her and killed her before burying her in the woods.

He will continue his testimony Tuesday.