Mother of Hilary Bonnell, allegedly killed by cousin, testifies at murder trial

MIRAMICHI, N.B. – A 16-year-old New Brunswick girl allegedly killed by her cousin may have been drinking on the day she was last seen alive, her mother testified Wednesday at the first-degree murder trial of Curtis Wayne Bonnell.

Hilary Bonnell’s mother told the Court of Queen’s Bench in Miramichi that her daughter phoned her shortly after 3 a.m. on Sept. 5, 2009.

Pam Fillier said Hilary, who was attending a house party in Esgenoopetitj (Es-geh-no-peh-titch) First Nation that night, sounded happy and appeared she may have been drinking.

“She sounded giggly,” Fillier said.

Fillier said she phoned Hilary later that morning but there was no answer.

“I thought she was still sleeping,” Fillier said.

The jury was then shown surveillance video from a local gas station that showed a girl enter and leave the store between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. that day. Fillier identified the girl as Hilary.

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The video also showed a man arrive at the station about three minutes later and drive off in a red pickup truck. Fillier identified him as Curtis Bonnell.

Bonnell, 32, has pleaded not guilty in Hilary’s death.

In opening arguments Tuesday, the Crown said the jury would hear evidence that the accused picked Hilary up while driving on a rural stretch of road, sexually assaulted her and killed her before burying her in the woods.

Hilary went missing after going to the house party. Her disappearance gripped the local community and triggered an exhaustive search.

Her body was found two months later, and Curtis Bonnell was charged in December 2009.

Eight weeks have been set aside for the trial.

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