Man who stabbed, dismembered woman sentenced to 8 years

The casket of Misty Lynn Ward, 27-year-old is carried out of Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples during her funeral in Edmonton.



EDMONTON -- A city woman is "very upset" that the man who stabbed her daughter to death and then dismembered her body in a bathtub was handed an eight-year prison term.

Joshua James Houle, 28, was sentenced Tuesday after earlier pleading guilty to manslaughter and offering an indignity to human remains in relation to the Dec. 31, 2011, slaying of 27-year-old Misty Lynn Ward.

"It's just a slap in the face -- he is just laughing," a tearful Violet Ward said outside court. "It's just not right. Eight years for what he did to my baby. It's just not right. I am very upset."

Justice Donald Manderscheid called it a "horrific series of events" leading to the victim's death and said it was aggravating that Houle had slept with a serrated steak knife nearby despite telling Ward that he had a history of waking up violently if he was startled awake.

"The most aggravating and egregious factor was that, by dismembering her body, he desecrated the body of an innocent young woman," said Manderscheid, adding that Houle's "ill-thought-out plan" also devastated her family.

The judge found it was mitigating that Houle pleaded guilty, co-operated with police and apologized in court.

According to agreed facts, the two friends met up and took a taxi to Houle's apartment. The two drank and possibly used drugs and then had sex. Ward fell asleep on the bed while Houle stayed up and drank beer. He later went out to buy more booze.

Court heard Houle had earlier warned Ward that he had a history of waking up violently if he was startled awake.

Houle eventually fell asleep on the living room sofa and, some time later, Ward got up and tried to wake him.

Houle reacted violently, and quickly jumped up, grabbed a serrated steak knife that was nearby and plunged it into the left side of her neck.

The panicked Houle tried to help Ward by wrapping a towel around her neck and applying pressure, but it did not stop the bleeding, so he put her in the bathtub.

Houle began to panic, and thought nobody would believe it was an accident. He then decided his only way out was to dispose of her body.

Houle was given credit for the 13 months he has already been in custody, leaving him with just under seven years still to serve. He was also ordered to submit a DNA sample for the national DNA databank and prohibited from possessing weapons for 10 years after his release.

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