VANCOUVER — A British Columbia judge has sentenced former Canadian Football League wide receiver Joshua Boden to life in prison for killing his ex-girlfriend, with no chance of parole for 14 years.
Boden was arrested in 2018 and found guilty last fall of second-degree murder in the 2009 death of 33-year-old Kimberly Hallgarth in the Burnaby home she shared with her three-year-old daughter.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Arne Silverman said Friday his decision to set parole eligibility at 14 years took into account the fact Boden recently obtained a high school graduation certificate and has been seeing a counsellor while in pretrial custody.
Silverman told the court the school records in particular compelled him to provide some "encouragement" to Boden, who is now 35.
The former B.C. Lions player looked over at members of Hallgarth's family as he was led out of the courtroom after the sentencing.
"Have a good day," he said, as Hallgarth's loved ones, including her daughter, hugged each other.
The Crown had argued parole eligibility should be set at 15 years, while Boden's lawyer asked for 12 years.
Crown prosecutor Brendan McCabe told the sentencing hearing last week that Boden viciously beat Hallgarth, stomping on her chest and neck, then strangled her and staged the scene to make it look like an accident.
McCabe called the murder "blunt, brutal and horrific," saying photos of Hallgarth's injuries were the most shocking he'd seen in his career.
Prior to delivering the sentence, Silverman said he would consider certain factors the Crown had argued were aggravating, including that Hallgarth and Boden were in an intimate relationship and that she was killed in her own home, where people are entitled to feel safe.
He would also consider the "prolonged nature of the killing" and Boden's attempt to cover up his crime, the judge told the court.
Boden's defence counsel had provided the court with a report saying he'd experienced racism, poverty and verbal abuse growing up, along with exposure to drug use and sexual assault by an older woman when he was a minor.
But Silverman agreed with the Crown's argument that information in the report was based on Boden's own narrative, and the judge said he wasn't prepared to accept its veracity.
The Crown agreed that Boden was the target of anti-Black racism growing up in North Vancouver, but argued there was no connection between systemic racism and the circumstances of the killing, Silverman said.
The judge wished Boden "good luck" after listing the conditions of his sentence, which include a ban on possessing any firearms, crossbow or explosive substance for 10 years following his possible release on parole, and a lifetime ban on prohibited and restricted firearms and other weapons.
Boden played for the B.C. Lions in 2007 before being released from the team in 2008 and signing with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, although he never played a regular-season game with that team before he was cut.
McCabe told court last week that Hallgarth sent photos of her injuries from a previous assault by Boden to then Lions coach Wally Buono, and he blamed her for ending his football career.
Boden, who was 22 when Hallgarth was killed, has maintained his innocence in her death.
Hallgarth's family has described her as a bubbly and caring person who deeply loved being a mother to her daughter Hailey, who is being raised by her paternal grandmother.
In a victim impact statement she read at the sentencing hearing last week, Hailey said she would do anything just to have another conversation with her mother.
"He took the world from me," she told the court via video link from outside the province. "He took a piece of my life that I can never get back."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 24, 2022.
Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the Crown had asked for parole eligibility to be set at 14 years. In fact, the Crown had asked for it to be set at 15 years.