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Jury wastes no time coming to verdict in Lake Street murder case (update)

The penalty for first-degree murder is a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years
2014 Lake Street Townsend
The Sault Ste. Marie Police Service mobile command unit sits outside an apartment complex on Lake Street where Coreillie Bonhomme's body was found on Aug. 8, 2013. SooToday file photo

It didn't take long Thursday for jurors to find Johnathan Townsend guilty of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Corellie Bonhomme nearly four years ago.

The eight women and four men retired to the jury room to begin deliberations at 12:25 p.m after Superior Court Justice Michael Varpio gave them instructions on the law.

Shortly before the 2 p.m. they notified the judge that they had reached a verdict and about a half an hour later, after court was reconvened, the jury foreperson announced their decision.

A date for sentencing of the 21-year-old man will be confirmed next Wednesday.

The penalty for first-degree murder is a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.

Varpio thanked the jurors for their concentration and attention, during what he said the lawyers had described as "difficult testimony."

Later outside the courtroom, Townsend's lawyer Jennifer Tremblay-Hall said the decision was not unexpected, but she had hoped jurors would spend more time deliberating.

The decision was "exceptionally quick," she said, adding it almost appeared they were pre-disposed to the outcome, but then noting "they were very attentive" during the nine-day trial.

Assistant Crown attorneys Crystal Tomusiak and Heidi Mitchell had no comment on the verdict.

Bonhomme died on Aug. 8, 2013, after Townsend stabbed her in the neck with a kitchen knife.

The body of the 42-year-old exotic dancer, who had been staying with Townsend, was discovered in the bathtub of his Lake Street apartment.

He pleaded not guilty to the charge.

During the trial, jurors viewed a video statement Townsend, then 18, gave to a city police detective when he was arrested two days later, where he admitted killing the woman.

The Crown's evidence also included Skype chat logs of conversations with a young American girl that police found on his computer.

In the online chats, which occurred in the weeks prior to the woman's death and on the night she died, Townsend repeatedly spoke about how much he hated "the stripper" and his plans to kill her.

When he took the witness stand in own defence, he insisted that he loved Bonhomme and his discussions about killing her were part of his plan to get her to fall in love with him.