Boychuk Pleads Guilty
Posted October 2, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH — After maintaining his innocence for more than 20 months, Bill Boychuk pleaded guilty Thursday to murdering his pregnant wife, avoiding a potential death sentence had a jury convicted him.
The change in his plea came one the day after the prosecution rested its case. Medical and family testimony cast strong doubts on Boychuk's claim that his wife, Karen, a 31-year-old lawyer who was four months pregnant, was killed by a hit-and-run driver.
Despite his plea, Boychuk told the media as he was being walked out of the courtroom that he was innocent and that he loved his parents and would miss them.
The Wake County Superior Court jury hearing testimony in the case was sent to a waiting room at 9:30 Thursday morning, just as the defense was scheduled to start its case. Judge Robert Farmer, Boychuk and lawyers met behind closed doors. When Farmer reconvened court at noon, Boychuk pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty.
The trial, which lasted eight days, was very emotional for the victim's family and Boychuk's parents. Karen Boychuk's father hugged the district attorney while Bill Boychuk's parents left the courtroom without a word.
The prosecution rested Wednesday, and Farmer denied routine defense motions to dismiss the case on grounds of insufficient evidence. The judge said there was a great deal of evidence against Boychuk, even if it was circumstantial. Farmer also pointed out no one else was at the Cary Parkway bridge the night Karen Boychuk died, and she sustained blows to the head after the fall.
Boychuk told police that a vehicle had hit them as they walked across the span, sending her over the edge to the greenway trail 45 feet below. Boychuk said the collision knocked him to the ground and he briefly lost consciousness. Medical testimony, however, showed that neither Bill or Karen Boychuk suffered injuries consistent with being hit by a car. Accident investigators also said there was no evidence found to suggest a car had struck the couple.
Boychuk is a former Canadian military employee who is studying for a master's degree in business administration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.