Trent Butt, a man from Carbonear, Newfoundland, has been convicted of the first-degree murder of his only child, 5-year-old Quinn Butt. During closing arguments Thursday at a courtroom in St. John's, Newfoundland, the prosecution argued that Butt strategically killed his daughter back in April of 2016, as part of a "calculated plan" to inflict pain on her mother, his estranged wife, Andrea Gosse.
According to court documents, there was no debate of whether or not Butt murdered his daughter. However, the jury was asked to determine whether or not the death was planned and deliberate since this would directly influence the severity of the criminal charge and sentence he will ultimately receive. They found that it was.
Earlier in the trial, Butt had testified that he could not recollect the memory of murdering his daughter but admitted that he found himself over her body and assumed he must have suffocated the little girl.
Trent Butt has arrived to hear his verdict. Quinn’s mom, Andrea Gosse, and her loved ones are sitting behind him in purple and pink. Jury just entering now. pic.twitter.com/XpOv2JAmpg— Tara Bradbury (@tara_bradbury) March 15, 2019
Following the murder of his young daughter, Butt had attempted to commit suicide by slashing his wrist and neck. He also doused Quinn's bed with gasoline and set his home on fire. He had left a long suicide note in his vehicle that primarily outlined the marital tensions he experienced with his wife.
In his suicide letter, Butt describes that he has no knowledge of how he killed Quinn and stated "I have thought about it for some time... Quinn is with me now because I could not die knowing she would be left with Andrea."
According to crown lawyer Lloyd Strickland, "His only failure in this murder-suicide plot was that he survived."
The trial's crown prosecutors argued that Butt's actions before the killing were suspicious - like when he purchased unusually large volumes of gasoline and disconnected the home's smoke alarms. According to the prosecution, these acts were all part of his "cold, calculated" murder-arson-suicide plot to inflict pain on Gosse.
Justice Donald Burrage also noted that in Butt’s earlier testimony, Butt said he reacted to Quinn’s death by drawing the conclusion that he must have suffocated her, rather than attempting to resuscitate her or calling for medical assistance.
When the jury's verdict was announced Friday morning, the courtroom erupted with tears and gasps. Gosse - wearing Quinn's favourite colour, purple - was comforted by friends and family upon hearing the verdict.
On the steps of the St. John's courthouse, Gosse cried out to reporters, "I feel like since I left Trent I've been fighting with the system for three years. And this is the first time anything has gone Quinn and [my] way."
Surrounded by her network of support, Gosse wept as she said, "If anything else other than [first-degree murder] would have come out, it just would have been a punch in the stomach. It's for Quinn."
Although Quinn's mother reported that she is not certain that the guilty verdict will bring her and her family complete closure, she does admit that she feels tremendous relief now that the trial is finally over.
Trent Butt originally faced charges for both first-degree murder and arson. He pleaded not guilty to both. However, once the trail started, he changed the arson plea to guilty after he acknowledged that he did start a fire at his home.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 23 in response to his arson plea.