Warning: This story contains graphic content that may be disturbing to some readers.
A former girlfriend of onetime BC Lions player Joshua Boden gave dramatic testimony before a B.C. Supreme Court justice Wednesday, alleging she watched Boden kill an ex-girlfriend by choking her and stepping on her neck.
Heidi Nissen, 30, was testifying at the trial of Boden, who has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the 2009 death of Kimberly Hallgarth, who was 33 at the time.
Nissen lived with the former football player – who got his start on the North Shore with the Carson Graham Eagles - both before and after Hallgarth’s death at a Burnaby apartment in the early morning hours of March 15, 2009.
Boden was also her pimp who forced her to work in the sex trade downtown, Nissen told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Barry Davies, who is hearing the case without a jury.
Nissen, a key witness in the murder trial, said on the night of March 14, 2009 she called Hallgarth from a women’s safe house in Surrey, hoping to confide in her about recent physical abuse she had suffered at the hands of Boden.
“I called her because I had no one else to call,” said Nissen, who was granted permission by the judge to testify through a closed circuit TV system. “I knew she had dated Josh before and had the same kind of relationship with Josh that I did. I knew about him assaulting her.”
Nissen said she took a cab to Hallgarth’s apartment in a Colborne Avenue fourplex in Burnaby. But soon after arriving, she discovered that Boden was already there.
Nissen described Boden as “more than angry” and accusing her of working for another pimp. “He was livid. He was scary.”
“I immediately feared for my life,” she said. “I could tell how angry he was. I was screaming and crying, repeating myself.”
Nissen said at one point Boden punched her in the head with a closed fist.
He then followed Hallgarth towards her bedroom where Nissen said she heard sounds of a struggle.
“At this point I’m making amends with God,” she said. “I thought I was going to die.”
Nissen said she heard Hallgarth tell Boden to get off her. “The last thing I heard her say was ‘I’m calling the cops,’” she said.
Boden then came back, said Nissen, and put his hands around her throat, choking her until she was unconscious.
When she woke up, “I remember hearing complete silence” she said. “I knew something was wrong.”
Nissen said she saw Hallgarth laying face up down some stairs by the front door. “She had dark marks all over her neck,” said Nissen. “Josh was standing over her and he’s got one of his feet on her neck.” He lifted his foot up, she said, and pushed all his body weight on to Hallgarth’s neck.
“She was making sounds,” said Nissen. “She was gasping for air.”
Nissen testified she saw Boden pouring some prescription pills into Hallgarth’s mouth. She said she also saw him pushing a rolled up pair of socks into Hallgarth’s throat.
Then he knelt down and began choking Hallgarth, said Nissen. “When he was finished with the hands around her throat she wasn’t making the noises anymore.”
“I remember feeling helpless and completely ridiculous, standing there watching him kill her.”
Nissen testified that afterwards she and Boden left the apartment and took a taxi back to Surrey. She described Boden’s emotional state as “oddly calm.”
Nissen said Boden told her the police would know she was at the apartment, and gave her a cover story to tell them, saying she had visited Hallgarth and found her drunk but left because Hallgarth had clients coming over.
Earlier in the day, Nissen testified how she came from a troubled background and met Boden when she was 14 years old.
By the time she was 16, Nissen was living with Boden, who forced her into the sex trade, she said.
Nissen said she lied to police and under oath at Boden’s bail hearing. “I lied to police because of fear of Josh,” she said. She added she also had a strong bond with Boden. “I felt like he was the only person I had in the whole entire world.” Boden is the father of two children with Nissen.
Nissen is expected to be on the stand for the remainder of the week.
Earlier in the trial, prosecutors outlined their theory that Boden killed Hallgarth because he felt she had ruined his chances of a professional football career by telling coaches that he was physically abusing her.
Boden, who went from playing football at Carson Graham Secondary to a brief career as a wide receiver for the BC Lions in 2007, was charged in 2018 with the killing of Hallgarth.
Former BC Lions head coach Wally Buono is also expected to testify in the trial.
The trial continues.