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The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia mother booed at court appearance

Canadian Press, by Alison Auld, June 16, 2008

Karissa Boudreau is shown in this undated handout photo. An arrest has been made in the mysterious case of Karissa Boudreau, the 12-year-old Nova Scotia girl whose frozen body was found in February near Bridgewater after a two-week search. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)

BRIDGEWATER, N.S. - Penny Boudreau, the Nova Scotia woman charged with the first-degree murder of her 12-year-old daughter, clutched a tissue and openly sobbed Monday when she made her first court appearance.

The 33-year-old from Bridgewater, N.S., hid her face and said nothing as the first-degree murder charge was read into the court record.

Later, as she was led out the rear door of the courthouse to a waiting sheriff's car, about 100 people gathered to see the accused mother, dressed in a red T-shirt and jeans.

Some in the crowd taunted and jeered Boudreau as she was led away. Emotions ran high outside the courthouse.

Yells of "Child killer!" and "Murderer" and "Kill some Read More ..ds" could be heard from some among the crowd.

It was Boudreau's first court appearance and she has not had an opportunity to speak to the charge. Her lawyer was not able to be on hand Monday and could not immediately be reached for comment.

Peggy Williams, 32, whose daughters attended a church youth group with Karissa, said the hearing reminded the community about the painful period following the girl's mysterious disappearance.

Her frozen body was found on the west bank of the LaHave River near Bridgewater on Feb. 9 - two weeks after her mother reported her missing.

"We're shocked, upset. It brings back the memories of Karissa," Williams said.

Penny Boudreau was arrested last Friday in Halifax.

On Saturday, police investigators told a news conference they did not expect to charge anyone else. They also declined to release any details about their investigation.

An autopsy months ago determined the cause of death, but that information has also been kept a secret.

On Monday, Judge Anne Crawford ordered Penny Boudreau not to have any contact with four people: former boyfriend Vernon MacCumber; April O'Reilly, the girl's aunt; Paul Boudreau, the girl's father, and his brother Shane.

Penny Boudreau was married to Shane Boudreau before they split up and MacCumber entered her life. MacCumber is considered a material witness in the case.

Crown prosecutor Paul Scovil said court proceedings would be held over until June 24.

Outside court, Scovil said he expects a date will be set for a bail hearing at the next court appearance in provincial court in Bridgewater, a town about an hour southwest of Halifax on the province's South Shore.

Scovil said the first-degree murder charge alleges Penny Boudreau planned to kill her only child.

"It means there has been premeditation and all that would entail," he said outside court.

Scovil said MacCumber, who sat at the back of the courtroom during the brief hearing, must not have contact with Boudreau while she's in jail.

"Obviously, she lived with him and, as such, he would have information that may be something the Crown will introduce at trial and may be material in relation to the charges," he said.

The Crown attorney said he's prosecuted murder trials before, but this case is "one of the most important" cases of his career because it involves the death of a 12-year-old girl.

Tammy Gray, 35, of Bridgewater, was among those in the hostile crowd outside the courthouse.

"I'm mad, upset. I don't know what else to say. ... It's shocking to hear," she said.

Penny Boudreau reported her daughter missing late on the afternoon of Jan. 27 as a snowstorm swept over the region.

She told a news conference where she appealed for her daughter's to come home that they had argued that day and gone for a drive.

"I was trying to reach out to her as a mom and set some things straight," she said.

Boudreau said she went to a supermarket in Bridgewater.

She said she went into the store and left the girl in the car and when she returned, Karrisa was gone.

At the news conference, Boudreau stressed their disagreements were never serious and the girl had not run away before.

"I just want you to come home," she pleaded tearfully. "We all love you, Karissa. I love you."