Nova Scotia pair plead guilty to murder of young mother

Jason James Johnson and Kelly Amanda MacDonald pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and interfering with human remains in the death of Catie Miller

HALIFAX — Two people have admitted to the killing and horrific dismemberment of a young Halifax mother in 2014.

Jason James Johnson and Kelly Amanda MacDonald, who are both in their 30s and lived in Lawrencetown, N.S., pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder and interfering with human remains in the death of Catie Miller, who was 29 at the time of her death.

In an agreed statement of facts read by prosecutor Robert Kennedy, the court heard that on July 15, 2014, Johnson had beaten Miller with a tire iron and confined her in the trunk of his Pontiac Grand Prix.

He met MacDonald in Enfield, N.S., and with their child in the back seat, they drove to Lawrencetown as Miller awoke and screamed, “Jason you don’t have to do this!”

The court heard that MacDonald told Johnson to “finish her off.”

At one point, he stopped and cut her throat with a hooked knife MacDonald had obtained. The prosecutor said when Johnson continued to make noise in the trunk, MacDonald again urged her common-law partner to “finish it,” and he opened the trunk and slit Miller’s throat a second time.

The statement of facts says the pair went to another residence in Sheet Harbour late that night, where tarps and tools were laid out on the lawn.

It says Johnson used an axe and hand saw to remove Miller’s head and hands from her body, “which was done to prevent her identification through dental and fingerprint records.”

MacDonald eventually took undercover officers to the location where Miller’s torso was hidden in Lawrencetown, tied to a tree.

Catie’s mother, Terry Miller, spoke in court as two photographs of her daughter were held nearby her.

“I must face a life where I will always grieve my daughter… my dreams for her have vanished. I’m left with endless pain,” she said.

“Evil visited our family… I’m continuously asking, ‘Why, why, why?'”

Catie, who had a young son, was last in contact with her family on the day of her death and was reported missing a few days later.

The victim’s father, John Miller, says his grandson will need “emotional and financial support.”

“There’s no reason for the viciousness and disrespect, there’s no reason,” he said, weeping in court.

After hearing the statement of facts, Johnson declined to make any comment to the court.

MacDonald spoke briefly to Justice Patrick Duncan, offering an apology to Catie’s father and son.

“I’m very sorry to John (Miller)…in the death of Catie, a young mother and daughter,” she said.

“There are no words that I can say for either of you to forgive me for taking Catie’s life. I just hope that one day that God chooses to forgive me on your behalf.”

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