Alicia Murphy pleaded guilty to manslaughter on Friday in Yukon Supreme Court after years of denying that she had anything to do with the death of Evangeline Billy in 2008.
Murphy was sentenced to time-served, after admitting she killed Billy and staged it to look like a sexual assault.
She was sentenced to nine years in prison. But because of the amount of time she has already spent behind bars she will not be going back to jail.
She was given three years probation, the longest length of probation available in this situation.
Murphy was scheduled to go to trial later this year facing a second-degree murder charge.
It would have been her second trial related to Billy’s death.
Murphy was originally convicted of second-degree murder in 2009 and given a life sentence with no eligibility of parole for 14 years.
But in 2014 a panel of appeal judges ordered she get a new day in court because of concerns over some of the witnesses that were called during the original trial.
That was supposed to happen this year.
Instead, Murphy has admitted to beating and killing Billy in the early morning hours of June 22, 2008.
After beating Billy, Murphy held her head under the water of the Yukon River until she drowned and then pulled down her pants and underwear in an effort to make it look like she had been sexually assaulted, the court heard.
Murphy pushed her body into the water where she was later found.
“This was a brutal and violent beating followed by the drowning of a vulnerable victim,” Crown prosecutor Noel Sinclair told the court.
According to an agreed statement of facts read in court, Murphy was unemployed and addicted to crack cocaine and alcohol when she killed Billy. She had spent the evening socializing with friends and consuming drugs and alcohol.
Some time around midnight she left the party to go look for more drugs for the group. That’s when she encountered an intoxicated Billy and attempted to rob her.
After Billy was dead, Murphy went back to her friends. She would later confess what she had done to her sister and a friend. They went to the police.
Billy’s family packed the courtroom on Friday. There were so many people that the hearing was delayed so a video feed could be set up and more people could watch the proceedings on a screen in a second courtroom.
Justice Leigh Gower told the crowd that his heart goes out to Billy’s family.
“The sentence I impose is never going to be long enough to bring Ms. Billy back,” he said.
After, family remained outside the courthouse hugging and crying. Many people were dressed in red, a colour meant to honour the country’s missing and murdered aboriginal women.
Billy’s mother, Bella Bresse, said waiting all these years for the case to end has been difficult.
“I lost a very beautiful daughter,” she said.
The fact that her daughter’s killer will now be out in public makes things difficult. Bresse called the sentence “half-justice.”
“I, like the family, really felt that more time could have been served,” said Little Salmon Carmacks Chief Eric Fairclough.
“There’s no justice, again, that can cover up what took place.”
Billy’s daughter, Azul, stood outside with the family. She’s 16 now and says she will always remember her mother.
“I remember what they tell me and I remember some moments that I was with her, but those moments I hold on to and I will for the rest of my life.”
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