KAMLOOPS — It took a jury mere hours to decide Damien Taylor was guilty of murdering his 16-year-old pregnant girlfriend CJ Fowler.
After hearing evidence each day for the last two weeks, the 11-person jury in Kamloops Supreme Court was sequestered around 11 a.m. today, Oct. 14 and delivered its verdict before 5 p.m. today.
Taylor showed no reaction to his verdict.
Throughout trial, Crown explained Taylor’s trip with Fowler to Kamloops in December 2012. The two decided to sell drugs together, but after arriving in the city, that plan began to crumble. Throughout a bender involving extensive meth use, Fowler had an argument with her friend who was also dealing drugs, found out she was pregnant, ended up in the hospital with chest pains she attributed to crystal meth use and had plans to return home to Terrace early.
But before the two could arrive at the Greyhound bus station, she and Taylor had a fight at the hospital and hiked to a secluded area near Guerin Creek. Fowler sat on the edge of the ravine, took her shoes off and crossed her legs before she died. It was the 56-pound concrete block Taylor dropped on her head which crushed her airway causing her to suffocate. A pathologist who conducted the autopsy on Fowler said she could have been saved if she received medical attention.
Taylor changed his clothes, fled the scene and boarded a bus to Prince George. After giving two completely different statements to police, which included a dramatized surprise reaction to her death and a confession he later alleged was fake, Taylor was arrested in 2014.
The two-year process from when Fowler’s body was found until today’s verdict took its toll on Fowler’s family. CJ’s mother, Matilda Fowler, and step-father Glen Wilson, begged for information on their daughter’s killer through an RCMP press conference and other media opportunities. Matilda sat through the entire trial, often with her son. Today, when asked about her reaction of the verdict, her initial response was one word: Overwhelmed.
“I’m glad he’s guilty and we can get some closure in this. Right now my heart is beating so fast,” she said. “I want to scream so loud but I want to cry at the same time. I just don’t want any other mothers going through what I went through."
Before returning home to Prince George, Matilda said she and her son will visit the site where CJ’s body was found to leave some items, clean it up and place a cross.
She said despite the hardship she went through, she forgives Taylor and feels for his family.
Crown prosecutors said they hoped the verdict would bring some closure to the Fowler family.
Taylor’s lawyer, Don Campbell said it was important to note the impact drug use played in this case. While rendering a verdict for Taylor, jurors had to be mindful of whether or not the amount of drugs Taylor took, along with lack of sleep and food, could have led him to blacking out before committing the crime. On the stand Taylor said he blacked out before Fowler’s death and woke up next to her body. He said he panicked and fled the scene.
“It’s profoundly tragic that CJ Fowler lost her life. But I think that from a systemic point of view this is not unusual in the terms of fact that there are hundreds of families being crushed and destroyed. The human wreckage of crystal meth is profoundly tragic,” Campbell said. "This kind of tragedy can happen again if we’re not able to stem the tide of drug abuse that’s gripping young people and ruining their lives."
A murder conviction carries a mandatory life sentence, but parole eligibility can begin at a minimum of 10 years or a maximum of 25. The jury offered no recommendations. Campbell said he will request 10 to 12 years for Taylor.
Justice Dev Dley will impose his sentence at a later date.
To read the trial in its entirety, click here.
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