PAULA MURDERED OVER GAMBLING DEBT

Paula Gallant’s husband says he killed her in argument over his $700 gambling debt

 

 Paula’s sister Lynn Gallant-Blackburn

Lynn Gallant-Blackburn, sister of Paula Gallant, prepares to meet the media and release a statement in Halifax on Wednesday at the conclusion in the trial of Jason MacRae. The Canadian Press

Published on March 2, 2011

Published on March 2, 2011

The Canadian Press 

 

 

Jason MacRae sentenced to life in prison with no parole eligibility for 15 years in slaying of Glace Bay-born school teacher

HALIFAX — A dispute over a $700 gambling debt led the husband of an elementary school teacher to strike his wife in the head with a two-by-four before strangling her in the basement of their home five years ago.

Topics :

Nova Scotia Supreme Court , RCMP , Nova Scotia Power , Glace Bay

Closing a case that was kept in the public spotlight through a high-profile campaign led by the victim’s sisters, Jason MacRae pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison with no parole eligibility for 15 years in the slaying of Paula Gallant, a Glace Bay native, on Dec. 27, 2005.

Investigators struggled for years to find clues in the 36-year-old woman’s death until announcing last August that they had charged her husband with first-degree murder.

Her sisters and other family members and friends packed Nova Scotia Supreme Court to hear the wrenching details of Gallant’s death in an agreed statement of facts that was read out by the prosecution.

Court heard that MacRae, 37, who was long a police suspect, was approached in October 2009 by an undercover RCMP officer posing as the head of a crime syndicate as part of a so-called Mr. Big sting.

The officer told MacRae he understood police had something on him and he could make his “problem” go away through connections. The officer eventually won MacRae’s confidence to the point that he quit his job at Nova Scotia Power to work full time for the alleged crime syndicate.

MacRae admitted to the undercover officer that the thought of killing his wife had crossed his mind before.

“Honestly, I thought about it before but I didn’t think I would ever do it,” he is quoted as saying in the agreed statement of facts. “It just happened.”

In a video recorded by police without MacRae’s knowledge, he revealed to the undercover officer the details of his wife’s murder. He said it began with an argument over the online gambling debt he had hid from his wife and ended in a violent struggle on the laundry room floor.

“She wasn’t in the door five minutes and she was just bitching at me about something. … I think something just went off and I said, ‘OK, apparently today is the day,’” MacRae told the officer.

MacRae said he left Gallant sitting at a computer in the couple’s basement and returned with a two-by-four.

He said he hit her in the back of the head and Gallant stood up and screamed.

A struggle ensued in the laundry room and MacRae said he strangled his wife with his hands.

Gallant’s last words were: “What are you doing? Stop.”

MacRae put plastic cling wrap around his wife’s face to determine whether she was breathing and left for about 20 minutes to feed their one-year-old daughter, who had awakened from an afternoon nap and could be heard stirring on a monitor during the struggle.

MacRae said he eventually wrapped Gallant’s body in a blanket and slid it out of a downstairs window before putting it in the trunk of her car.

Gallant’s body was later found after the car was parked outside Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea Elementary School, where she had taught since 1999. She was a Grade 3 teacher.

MacRae stood in court and expressed his remorse.

“I have never been a violent person,” he said. “I don’t know what changed in me that day. I wish it didn’t happen but it did.”

The sentence for second-degree murder is life in prison with no eligibility for parole for at least 10 years. The Crown argued MacRae should serve 20 years before he could apply for parole and the defence said he should serve 12 years.

MacRae’s lawyer, Michael Taylor, said outside court he was satisfied with Judge Kevin Coady’s decision of 15 years.

“We always deal in ranges; there’s no specific number,” he said. “It’s in the range and I think in this case it’s appropriate.”

Crown prosecutor Denise Smith said she was disappointed with the decision and explained why the prosecution settled for a second-degree murder plea in the case.

“Ultimately we felt that the evidence of planning and deliberation here was not sufficient to sustain a conviction for first-degree murder,” said Smith.

Halifax Regional Police Chief Frank Beazley said at the time of MacRae’s arrest that key information was brought to the attention of investigators in the spring of 2009. MacRae was described by Beazley as a suspect early in the investigation.

A campaign spearheaded by Gallant’s sisters, Lynn Gallant-Blackburn and Lana Kenny, kept public attention on the case as the months and years passed.

The sisters started a letter-writing campaign to newspapers, hoping to rekindle dormant memories as the police investigation appeared to stall. The family also pushed the Justice Department to increase the reward for information leading to an arrest, and spoke out publicly about violence against women.

In a victim-impact statement, Gallant-Blackburn spoke of the pain her family has suffered and the betrayal they felt after tending to MacRae’s emotional needs.

She said the family wondered about the lack of emotion MacRae showed at the time of Gallant’s funeral and his reluctance to stand by his wife’s casket at the funeral home.

“He had all the answers and could have ended the suffering but instead he moved on without any regard for anyone but himself,” said Gallant-Blackburn.

“I have to live every day without my sweet baby sister in my life.”

Outside court, Gallant-Blackburn told reporters she thought at times a day of reckoning would never come.

“It is due to the perseverance of many dedicated professionals … that has led to prosecution,” she said.

“It is our hope that today’s decision will begin to bring some peace to our families, friends in the community and we can start to move forward with Paula in our hearts.”

(Courtesy of Cape Breton Post)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: