Testimony from this week’s manslaughter trial explored some aspects of physical evidence as well as Kenneth Courorielle’s whereabouts on Christmas Eve and into Christmas morning 2020.
Courtorielle’s uncle, Mark Blue, testified that he had tried to call his nephew several times in the early hours of Dec. 25, 2020 after he witnessed a phone call that concerned him.
Billie Johnson was reported missing after not responding to calls and texts from friends and family.
According to Blue’s testimony and an agreed statement of facts obtained by APTN News, Courtorielle had been skating with his uncle and other family members on Christmas Eve from about 4:30 p.m. He left his family and arrived home at 9:15 p.m.
Cell phone data also confirmed his location during these times according to evidence presented by the Crown.
The uncle described his relationship with the accused as “It wasn’t close because we had not seen each other for long periods of time.”
Blue said he had trouble recalling the exact details of events from three years but that he had called Courtorielle after an evening of skating in a small town outside of Edmonton.
Blue was interviewed by police originally on Dec. 30, 2020. The Crown prosecutor asked him questions based on this interview.
Johnson vanished on Christmas Eve. Her family organized a search team for her that covered many kilometres of ground in the middle of winter.
Johnson’s remains were found north of Edmonton in April 2021 after police were able to get location information from her cell phone.
According to an agreed statement of facts, Courtorielle told Edmonton Police that he had nothing to do with Johnson’s disappearance.
The two men were together and his uncle testified he heard him on the phone.
“He was on a phone call with a female—I don’t know which female but he was getting mad about drinking,” said Blue.
Earlier testimony from Jennifer Cappo aligned with this series of events where Billie Johnson had left her mother’s house after an argument and had made plans to have Cappo meet her where she had been staying with Courtorielle.
After Courtorielle left, he spoke to his uncle again that same evening.
Blue said he was “off, sad, confused and disoriented… to me he seemed off. He was not himself.
An agreed statement of facts between the accused and the Crown said they spoke for around six minutes at 10:50 p.m.
Courtorielle uncle called him a number of times after that but he next saw him at 1:30 a.m. Christmas morning.
When he returned to his uncle’s house, Blue said he was fidgety, pacing and concerned. Courtorielle slept there that evening.
The court also heard from Const. Nadine Comeau about the investigation into Johnson’s disappearance and a search for physical evidence.
Comeau, who has worked for 15 years as a police officer was a part of the search of Courtorielle’s residence and vehicles.
She testified that herself and other officers observed visible blood stains in the bedroom, particularly behind the headboard of the bed.
They also tested the bathroom for blood using Hemastix, a swab used by investigators to determine the presence of blood.
Comeau said “the [bedroom] glowed blue” when the police used the spray to identify blood.
“It was not just on the walls but the floor. It gave me an emotional reaction to see how much it glowed. It was something that was quite obvious,” said Comeau.
On cross examination, the defense took issue with the officer’s comment that she had an emotional response and noted that she did not reference that luminol is very sensitive and can have reactions to very diluted amounts of blood.
The trial will continue with the medical examiner testifying next week.