Skip to content

Former BC Lion Joshua Boden found guilty of second-degree murder

A former BC Lions player who grew up playing football in North Vancouver has been found guilty of the 2009 murder of Kimberly Hallgarth in Burnaby.

A former B.C. Lions player who grew up playing football in North Vancouver has been found guilty of the second-degree murder of an ex-girlfriend in 2009.

In a lengthy decision handed down Thursday afternoon (Nov. 4), B.C. Supreme Court Justice Barry Davies found Joshua Boden, 34, guilty in the second-degree murder of Kimberly Lynn Hallgarth at her home on Burnaby's Colborne Avenue.

Boden, who went from playing football at North Vancouver's Carson Graham Secondary to a brief career as a wide receiver for the BC Lions in 2007, was charged in 2018 in the killing of Hallgarth on March 15, 2009.

Davies said Thursday the Crown had proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Boden killed Hallgarth by stomping on her head and neck and then strangling her to death.

Davies said Boden was motivated by continuing anger and resentment at Hallgarth, who he blamed for the loss of his professional football career.

Afterwards, Boden tried to cover up the murder by staging the crime scene to try to make it look like Hallgarth had died accidentally after taking drugs, said Davies.

Davies said autopsy evidence established that Hallgarth was “brutally beaten before she was choked to death.”

The decision Thursday follows a year-long trial in B.C. Supreme Court.

Key witness account

One of the main issues in the trial was the credibility of the Crown’s key witness, another former girlfriend of Boden’s, Heidi Nissen, who gave dramatic testimony describing how she saw Boden kill Hallgarth on the night in question.

Nissen, 30, lived with the former football player both before and after Hallgarth’s death. Boden was also her pimp who forced her to work in the sex trade downtown, Nissen said.

Burnaby mom Kimberly Hallgarth was found killed in 2009. Her ex-boyfriend, Joshua Boden, has been found guilty of second-degree murder. Photo: IHIT

In the trial, Nissen described calling Hallgarth from a women’s safe house in Surrey, hoping to confide in her about physical abuse she had suffered at the hands of Boden. 

Nissen said she took a cab to Hallgarth’s apartment. But soon after arriving, she discovered that Boden was already there.

Nissen described Boden as “livid” with anger.

Nissen said at one point Boden put his hands around her throat, choking her until she was unconscious.

When she woke up, “I remember hearing complete silence” she said. “I knew something was wrong.” 

Nissen said she saw Hallgarth laying face up down some stairs by the front door, with dark marks all over her neck. Nissen described watching Boden put his foot on Hallgarth’s neck and push his weight on it.

“She was making sounds,” said Nissen. “She was gasping for air.”

Nissen testified she saw Boden pouring some prescription pills into Hallgarth’s mouth. She said she also saw him pushing a rolled up pair of socks into Hallgarth’s throat.

Then he knelt down and began choking Hallgarth, said Nissen. “When he was finished with the hands around her throat she wasn’t making the noises anymore.”

Nissen was approached by police and initially told them that she’d been to Hallgarth’s home that night by herself but left soon after. About six weeks after Hallgarth’s death, Nissen went to police and told them she’d seen Boden kill Hallgarth and was placed in a police safe house.

But she later recanted and went back to live with Boden again.

She eventually went back to the police and began to live under witness protection with her two children, supported by the police.

Boden’s defence lawyer Kevin Westell had argued Nissen should not be believed, pointing out that she had changed her story several times, that there were inconsistences in her statements and that she had routinely lied to police.

He also argued that Nissen was jealous of Boden’s relationship with Hallgarth and couldn’t be ruled out as the person who had killed Hallgarth.

But Davies said most of the inconsistencies in Nissen’s statements were small and not central to what happened on the night of the Hallgarth’s death.

He added Nissen’s lies to authorities also had to be considered in the context of her tumultuous and obsessive relationship with Boden, which started when she was still a teenager.

Kim Hallgarth homicide
Homicide investigators scour a unit in a Colborne Avenue fourplex in March 2008 after the discovery of Kimberly Halgarth's body inside. Burnaby NOW file

Other evidence

Davies said Nissen’s testimony was also corroborated by other evidence.

That included the testimony of a couple who lived in the suite next door to Hallgarth, who said they were woken up in the early morning hours of March 15 by the sounds of a man and woman arguing, followed by the sound of something or someone going down the stairs.

Nissen’s description of Hallgarth’s body and the way she said Boden had moved the body before leaving the apartment also matched the description from the police officer first on the crime scene, noted Davies – which included prescription pills that had been strewn about, a broken handrail on the stairs and the fact Hallgarth’s artificial nails had all been broken off. Boden’s DNA was also found on the waistband of Hallgarth’s pants.

Hallgarth’s roommate at the time also testified during the trial about the “toxic” relationship between Hallgarth and Boden.

Boden blamed Hallgarth for loss of football career: witnesses

Hallgarth had told the roommate that Boden held her responsible for being fired from the B.C. Lions and continued to demand money from her as compensation, noted Davies.

Wally Buono, a former head coach of the B.C. Lions, also testified that Boden had been dropped from the team in 2008 after Hallgarth called to tell him Boden had assaulted her.

Hallgarth’s former mother-in-law, who had maintained a close relationship with Hallgarth, also testified Hallgarth was fearful of Boden in the days leading up to her death. She said Hallgarth had asked her for money in the past so she could give it to Boden.

Boden gave a statement to police saying he was at home in Surrey following Hallgarth’s death.

But evidence from cellphone towers and testimony from taxi drivers showed that was “patently untrue” said Davies.

A conviction for second-degree murder carries a sentence of life in prison.

A sentencing hearing to determine Boden's parole eligibility will be held at a later date.