Central Alberta man admits strangling girlfriend to death in Bowden

Central Alberta man admits strangling girlfriend to death in Bowden
Central Alberta man admits strangling girlfriend to death in Bowden

BOWDEN— A 30-year-old man has admitted to strangling a 25-year-old mother of two to death in Bowden in March 2021.

Ross McInnes pleaded guilty to a charge of second degree murder before Justice Jim Eamon in Court of King’s Bench Calgary on Monday, May 13.

His jury trial on a charge of first degree murder got underway Monday morning, when the accused entered a plea to the lesser charge of second degree murder.

According to an agreed statement of facts read in court, McInnes admitted getting into a physical confrontation with Kirsten Gardner, 25, also known as Kirsten O’Donoghue, at the woman’s Bowden home on March 22.

He admitted manually strangling the woman to death. An autopsy revealed the woman suffered numerous injuries to her head and body prior to death.

Asked by Justice Eamon whether he agreed to the plea and statement of facts, the accused said yes.

The trial summarized Monday afternoon, when victim impact statements from Gardner’s family and others were expected to be presented.

Crown prosecutor Britta Kristensen told the court the Crown and defense will be proposing a joint submission on sentencing of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for at least 15 years.

Gardner and McInnes were in an on-again, off-again relationship prior to her death, court heard.

Two of Gardner’s sisters read victim impact statements in court Monday afternoon, with each saying McInnes has left a terrible impact on many family members.

“The pain you have caused my family is disgusting,” said Bailey Whalen. “I cannot ever begin to explain the hatred that I have towards you.

“Kirsten was an amazing mother to those boys and because of you they will never get to feel the amount of love she had for them. I hope what you did keeps you up at night. I hope the thought of what you did haunts you for the rest of your life.”

Ashley Christoffersen said, “Ross, the mention of your name, the sound of it, the thought of you, makes me physically ill. The amount of hatred I have for you is immense. Your thoughtless, careless and downright horrendous action have robbed my nephews of their loving mother. The damage you have caused is irreparable.

“I hope and pray that what you did haunts you every minute of every day for the rest of your existence. I wish nothing but the worst for you.”

Gardner’s two other sisters and her brother were also in court with other friends and family.

McInnes did not appear to show any emotion as he sat in the dock as the statements were read.

The trial was originally scheduled for three weeks.

The Mountain View Emergency Shelter Society has named its under-construction emergency shelter in Olds Kirsten’s Place in tribute to Gardner.

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