Accounting for Law

Central Alberta man gets life for killing mother of three by strangling her

RED DEER, Alta. – A man from Red Deer, Alta., who strangled a woman and left her body in a dumpster has been sentenced to life in prison with no parole for at least 13 years.

Nathan Michael Desharnais, 28, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder two weeks ago, partway through his trial for killing Talia Meguinis, who was last seen partying with him early on Feb. 20, 2012.

Desharnais admitted he was high on six grams of cocaine and sleeping pills the night he killed Meguinis, a 27-year-old mother of three from Tsuu T'ina First Nation.

He choked Meguinis and left her body in a recycling dumpster near his apartment.

The dumpster was picked up the next day and the body was discovered on a conveyor belt at a recycling facility on Feb. 22.

Desharnais was arrested and charged with her murder in September 2012 after an elaborate RCMP Mr. Big operation during which he admitted to the killing.

In sentencing on Thursday, Queen's Bench Justice Eldon Simpson agreed with the punishment requested by Crown prosecutors Ed Ring and Bruce Ritter.

Defence lawyer Patty MacNaughton had asked for the minimum parole eligibility of 10 years.

For family members, who travelled from Tsuu T'ina to sit through court appearance after court appearance for more than four years, the sentence brought little satisfaction.

Sister Nellie Big Crow said she had expected the long-awaited sentence would bring closure.

``Honestly, I thought it would, but no, it hasn't.''

Big Crow said her family wanted to see Desharnais kept behind bars for at least 25 years.

``(Meguinis) was important. She had babies. She'll never get to see them grow up. She'll never be a grandmother. We're thankful for what was given to him. But still it's going to take a while for us to heal from 13 years instead of 25.''

Cousin Yvette Meguinis also found little solace on Thursday.

``It's not going to bring her back. ''We were supposed to grow old together,`` she said, her voice breaking.


© 2017 The Canadian Press

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