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Former B.C. Lion Josh Boden's murder of ex-girlfriend was 'horrific and brutal'

The former CFL player should receive 15 years in prison for strangling his ex-girlfriend to death and staging the scene to look like an accident, the Crown argued.

Warning: Information may be distressing to some readers.

A former B.C. Lions player's "blunt, horrific and brutal" murder of his partner merits 15 years in prison before parole eligibility, a Crown prosecutor told B.C. Supreme Court June 16.

Joshua Joseph Boden, 35, was found guilty on Nov. 4 of the second-degree murder of Kimberly Lynn Hallgarth at her home on Burnaby's Colborne Avenue.

Boden is now before Justice Arne Silverman for sentencing. Defence lawyer Kevin Westell is suggesting a sentence of 12 years.

Silverman heard from Hallgarth's family members — including her now-13-year-old daughter and brother.

Boden, who went from playing football at North Vancouver's Carson Graham Secondary to a brief career as a wide receiver for the BC Lions in 2007, was charged in 2018 in the killing of Hallgarth on March 15, 2009.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Barry Davies said the Crown had proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Boden killed Hallgarth by stomping on her head and neck and then strangling her to death.

Crown prosecutor Brendan McCabe said the case's aggravating factors included the fact that Boden has shown no remorse, moved the body and staged it, cleaned it up, tore out Hallgarth's fingernails and removed items from the scene.

Davies said Boden was motivated by continuing anger and resentment at Hallgarth, whom he blamed for losing his professional football career.

McCabe said Hallgarth had previously sent Lions former coach Wally Buono photos of injuries from domestic violence. Buono testified Boden was dropped from the team in 2008 after Hallgarth called to tell him Boden had assaulted her.

After the killing, Boden tried to cover up the murder by staging the crime scene to make it look like Hallgarth had died accidentally after taking drugs, Davies said.

McCabe said Boden put pills in her mouth and then stuffed socks in.

Davies said autopsy evidence established that Hallgarth was "brutally beaten before she was choked to death."

McCabe called the killing "absolutely shocking in nature."

Silverman said he will pass sentence June 24.

Key witness account

At trial, key witness Heidi Nissen, another former Boden girlfriend, described seeing Boden kill Hallgarth.

Nissen lived with Boden both before and after Hallgarth's death.

She witnessed Hallgarth's last minutes when she regained consciousness from being assaulted.

Boden was also Nissen’s pimp. He forced her to work in Vancouver's downtown sex trade while she was pregnant with a child by him, McCabe said.

On the stand, Nissen described calling Hallgarth from a women's safe house in Surrey, hoping to confide in her about the physical abuse she had suffered at Boden's hands.

Nissen said she took a cab to Hallgarth's apartment. On arriving, she discovered that Boden was already there.

Nissen described Boden as "livid" with anger.

Nissen said that at one point, Boden put his hands around her throat, choking her until she was unconscious.

When she woke up, "I remember hearing complete silence," she told Davies. "I knew something was wrong." 

Nissen said she saw Hallgarth lying face up on the stairs by the front door, with dark marks all over her neck. Nissen described watching Boden put his foot on Hallgarth's neck and push his weight on it.

"He raised his leg and brought it down on her neck," McCabe told Silverman.

"She was making sounds," Nissen testified. "She was gasping for air."

Nissen testified she saw Boden pouring some prescription pills into Hallgarth's mouth. She said she saw him pushing a rolled-up pair of socks into Hallgarth's throat.

Then he knelt and began choking Hallgarth, Nissen said. "When he was finished with the hands around her throat, she wasn't making the noises anymore."

McCabe said Boden had his thumbs on Hallgarth's throat and fingers on the back of her neck and "choked the life out of her."

McCabe said Hallgarth was alive as those events happened.

"You can't really get much worse than what Mr. Boden did," McCabe said.

Nissen was approached by police and initially told them that she'd been to Hallgarth's home that night by herself but left soon after. About six weeks after Hallgarth's death, Nissen went to police and told them she'd seen Boden kill Hallgarth and was placed in a police safe house.

But she later recanted and went back to live with Boden again.

She eventually went back to the police and began to live under witness protection with her two children, supported by the police.

Victim impact statements

Hallgarth's daughter, Hailey McDaniel, 13, said Boden "took the world from me."

"I will never get to know her," she said of her mother.

McDaniel's grandmother Vida Miller said the killing has taken her granddaughter's true happiness.

"She was a beautiful soul inside and out," Miller said. "I found her to be tender, loving, compassionate, giving and forgiving."

Brother Jamie Errand said he misses Hallgarth every day. "I have been robbed of my little sister. My sister had a glowing personality and an infectious laugh. She was like a movie star. She was a beautiful soul."

Mitigating factors

Westell told Silverman his client had experienced abuse and violence as a child as well as racial intolerance due to being of mixed race. He said Boden had experienced different treatment from teachers and had racial slurs aimed at him.

He said Boden had been sexually abused by an older woman when he was younger. And, he said, countering Nissen's comments about sex work, "Mr. Boden himself performed sex work for income." Westell said survival sex was a way out of poverty.

Boden chose not to address the court.

"He is aware that he has a right to address the court," Westell said. "He is waiving that right."

Boden blamed Hallgarth for football career ending: witness

Hallgarth had told a roommate that Boden held her responsible for being fired from the B.C. Lions. He continued to demand money from her as compensation, noted Davies.

Hallgarth's former mother-in-law, who had maintained a close relationship with Hallgarth, also testified that Hallgarth was fearful of Boden in the days leading up to her death.

She said Hallgarth had asked her for money in the past so she could give it to Boden.

Boden gave a statement to police saying he was at home in Surrey following Hallgarth's death.

However, said Davies, evidence from cellphone towers and testimony from taxi drivers showed that was "patently untrue."

With files from Jane Seyd

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