Samantha Higgins' killer pleads guilty to second-degree murder

SAMANTHA HIGGINS

A LaSalle man has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of second degree murder in the death and dismemberment of his fiancée over four years ago, just about a month before his trial for first degree murder was set to start.

Nicholas Fontanelli showed no emotion as he admitted to the joint statement of facts: that he strangled the mother of their two children, 22-year-old Samantha Higgins in July 2015, severed her legs and abandoned the body parts in two different places in the border town of Hinchinbrooke.

Family members of both Fontanelli and Higgins were in court this afternoon for the proceedings.

Higgins' mother could be heard sobbing as Fontanelli entered his guilty plea and then seen hugging the investigators and crown prosecutor Louis Bouthillier outside the courtroom.

"They were obviously very relieved not to have to go through that trial. They're also happy that the judge will entertain their statement, he will hear their statement," Bouthillier told CJAD 800.

Those victim impact statements will be heard in two weeks during sentencing arguments. It's an automatic life sentence for Fontanelli but there will be a joint recommendation for how long it'll be before he can apply for parole.

Justice James Brunton offered his apologies to both families for how long it took to get to this point, promising no more delays.

Fontanelli tried and lost twice in attempts to be tried on second degree murder.

He remains detained pending sentencing.