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YK man gets life sentence for murdering Yvonne Desjarlais

A man has been sentenced to life in prison and 13 years of parole ineligibility for strangling and killing a woman in Yellowknife three years ago.

It was hard to hear David Richard Harrison’s sentencing as people inside and outside the courtroom cheered when it was read aloud.

Harrison, who’s now 30, pleaded guilty to killing Yvonne Desjarlais last month. She was 63 years old at the time of her death.

Harrison was originally charged with first-degree murder but pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

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According to an agreed statement of facts, Harrison and Desjarlais had both been drinking on the night of December 29, 2012 when they met each other by chance downtown.

Desjarlais, originally from Lutselk’e, had been drinking at the Northern Lites Motel where she became intoxicated.

She left the party to go to the women’s shelter but ran into Harrison outside, whom she was acquainted with. He then invited her into a building he’d been doing some work on for some beer.

The two were alone at the time.

Desjarlais obliged, but when she tried to leave, Harrison strangled her to death and dragged her body into a downtown Yellowknife alley, where she was discovered the following morning.

Harrison was arrested in July 2013 after DNA evidence connected him to the crime. He confessed to killing her following his arrest.

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In delivering her sentence Tuesday, Judge Shannon Smallwood said a conviction of second-degree murder carries a minimum jail sentence of 10 years before parole, not to exceed 25 years.

Smallwood added that there was no explanation, motivation or provocation for his actions.

Since 1998, Harrison’s criminal record includes 32 convictions, including eight violent crimes.

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