Nicholas Butcher to serve at least 15 years in prison before he can apply for parole

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WATCH: Nicolas Butcher, who was found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend Kristin Jonhston, must serve at least 15 years in prison before he's eligible for parole. Natasha Pace has more – Aug 22, 2018

Convicted killer Nicholas Butcher must serve at least 15 years in prison before he is eligible to start applying for parole.

READ: Judge to decide parole eligibility for Nicholas Butcher, Halifax man convicted of killing Kristin Johnston

A jury found Butcher guilty of second-degree murder in April.

The court heard he placed a pillow over the head of his girlfriend, Kristin Johnson, then stabbed her repeatedly while she lay asleep in her bed at her home in Purcells Cove, N.S.

Johnston, 32, was a Montreal-born businesswoman and well-known yoga instructor in Halifax.

Kristin Johnston was a popular yoga instructor in Halifax. She was found dead at her home on March 26, 2016. File

Butcher and Johnston had been dating but evidence presented in court showed Johnston was attempting to break up with Butcher around the time of her death.

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READ: ‘I wanted to die’: Nicholas Butcher testifies he fatally stabbed Kristin Johnston after being attacked

A second-degree murder conviction comes with an automatic life sentence, however parole can range anywhere from 10 to 25 years.

Wednesday, Justice Joshua Arnold released his decision on parole eligibility in Nova Scotia Supreme Court, setting it at 15 years.

Butcher was also given 880 days credit for time already served since his arrest, meaning Butcher will be eligible to start applying for parole in approximately 12.5 years.

In this artist’s sketch, Nicholas Butcher testifies in a Halifax courtroom on Thursday, April 19, 2018. Butcher took the stand in his own defence at his second-degree murder trial in the death of Halifax yoga instructor Kristin Johnston. THE CANADIAN PRESS/James Vincent Walsh

The defence had been asking for a period of 10 years parole ineligibility while the Crown had been asking for 17 years.

Butcher’s lawyer, Peter Planetta, says in these situations nobody is going to be satisfied with the outcome.

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“At the end of the day, this is a terrible tragedy. There’s a young lady who’s dead and a young man, both of them had promising lives and one person is dead and that other is sentenced to life in prison,” he said.

Planetta says Butcher is “doing fine” given the fact he has been sentenced to life in prison and is looking to move on and “do his time,” he said.

Crown attorney Tanya Carter says the period of parole ineligibility sends a strong message of deterrence.

“Being in the relationship gives the murderer the opportunity, the access to that person that someone else wouldn’t have. As we argued, the facts suggest that she was asleep and unable to defend herself,” she said.

READ MORE: Man accused of killing Kristin Johnston takes stand in own defence

Tom Bourne, Johnston’s stepfather, was the only member of her family in court Wednesday for the parole decision.

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He said he is the only person in the family who is in any shape to deal with the proceedings.

Bourne told reporters that their whole family has been suffering since Johnston’s death. He said as a child he was always taught to forgive but that it is “not humanly possible” to forgive Butcher but “something you have to pray about.”

“If I don’t manage to forgive him, I am going to be pretty twisted and beaten up forever,” Bourne said.

He also told reporters that the trashing of Johnston’s reputation during the trial was particularly hard to deal with. Butcher took the stand in his own defence and claimed that Johnston’s death was the result of self defence after she attacked him.

“Not content with killing her, he proceeded to try and kill her reputation,” said Bourne.

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