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'Dismissed': Man convicted of murdering Alberta girlfriend in 2002 loses appeal

A man found guilty of beating and strangling his girlfriend to death more than two decades ago has failed in an appeal of his conviction before Alberta's top court. A courtroom at the Edmonton Law Courts building, in Edmonton on Friday, June 28, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

CALGARY — Alberta's top court has rejected the appeal of a man found guilty of beating and strangling his girlfriend to death more than two decades ago.

In 2021, a jury found Stephane Parent guilty of second-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend, Adrienne McColl, on Valentine's Day 2002. 

He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 17 years.

McColl's body was found in a ditch on a rural road near Nanton, south of Calgary, shortly after she went missing.

Police said at the time of the investigation their focus remained on Parent, who immediately bought a one-way ticket to Ottawa, but there wasn't enough evidence to lay charges.

The case went cold, but detectives revisited the investigation when new forensic technologies became available and they arrested Parent in Quebec in 2018.

Parent appealed his conviction, arguing some evidence shouldn't have been allowed to go to the jury, a defence expert witness was denigrated, the trial judge erred in her instructions to the jury and one of the jurors knew McColl's stepfather and should have been dismissed.

But the three-member Alberta Court of Appeal panel rejected those arguments.

"We do not share that concern," wrote Justice Peter Martin in the decision released Friday.

Martin said although the trial judge didn't consider whether there may be a reasonable apprehension of bias, it is clear she would have been satisfied there was not.

"There was simply no cogent evidence displacing the strong presumption of impartiality."

"The appeal is dismissed."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 15, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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