(The Canadian Press)

Man accused in death of Winnipeg teen Tina Fontaine not guilty

Raymond Cormier was accused of killing Indigenous 15-year-old and dumping her body in the Red River

A man accused of killing a 15-year-old Indigenous girl and dumping her body in Winnipeg’s Red River has been found not guilty of second-degree murder.

Tina Fontaine’s remains were discovered eight days after she was reported missing in August 2014. Raymond Cormier was charged more than a year later.

The jury deliberated for 11 hours before coming to its decision.

There were gasps from Tina’s family and their supporters as the verdict was read. Her great-aunt, Thelma Favel, who raised the girl wept.

“Do you really think you’re going to get away with it?” yelled one woman who was escorted out of court.

The Crown had argued that Cormier convicted himself with his own admissions on secret police recordings, but the defence said numerous forensic holes in the prosecution’s case had left reasonable doubt.

Tina was being sexually exploited after coming to Winnipeg from her home on the Sagkeeng First Nation. Her death prompted renewed calls for an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.

There was no DNA evidence linking Cormier to the teen and doctors who were called to testify said they could not definitively say how Tina died.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Glenn Joyal had told jurors that if they weren’t satisfied that Tina’s death was caused by an unlawful act, such as being smothered or dumped in the water while unconscious, then they had to find Cormier not guilty.

If they decided her death was unlawful, then jurors were to determine if Cormier was responsible.

Over three weeks of testimony, the jury heard how Tina’s relatively stable upbringing spiralled out of control when her father was murdered. Her mother came back into her life and Tina had gone to visit her in Winnipeg, where the girl descended into life on the streets.

She and her boyfriend met the much-older Cormier in the summer of 2014. The jury heard Cormier gave the couple a place to stay, gave Tina drugs and had sex with her.

Witnesses remember Tina and Cormier fighting in the street over a stolen truck and Tina accusing him of selling her bike for drugs. Tina went so far as to report a stolen truck to police.

She was in the care of social services and was staying at a Winnipeg hotel when she disappeared.

Her body was found wrapped in a Costco duvet cover that several witnesses said was similar to one Cormier owned. Experts testified the river had washed away any DNA on the cover.

Investigators went undercover and offered Cormier an apartment. Audio bugs captured what formed the heart of the Crown’s case.

Cormier was recorded telling a woman that he would make a bet that Tina was killed because he had had sex with her and then ”I found out she was 15 years old.”

In another recording, Cormier was heard arguing with a woman and saying that there was a little girl in a “grave someplace screaming at the top of her lungs for me to finish the job. And guess what? I finished the job.”

The defence took issue with the quality of the recordings and argued that without DNA evidence and no cause of death, the Crown couldn’t prove that Tina didn’t die from a drug overdose or naturally in what Cormier’s lawyer called the “underbelly of the city.”

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Chilliwack prolific offender wanted yet again

B.C.-wide warrant issued for David Allen Geoghegan

One man, two women charged with stolen pickup downtown Chilliwack

None of the three have criminal history in B.C.

COLUMN: Should elected officials block constituents and reporters on social media?

Ottawa mayor was sued for doing that but a Chilliwack school trustee didn’t get that message

Chilliwack-Hope MP says new summer jobs grant application no longer includes ‘values test’

Those with anti-abortion beliefs left out last year because of requirement to respect the Charter

Ask the Coach: Chilliwack Chiefs bench boss Brian Maloney talks shootouts

Ask the Coach is a bi-weekly feature where Maloney gives unfiltered answers to fan questions.

VIDEO: U.S. Congress to probe whether Trump told lawyer Cohen to lie

At issue is a BuzzFeed News report that about negotiations over a Moscow real estate project

Rookie Demko backstops Canucks to 4-3 win over Sabres

Young Vancouver goalie makes 36 saves to turn away Buffalo

Charges upgraded against mother of murdered B.C. girl

Kerryann Lewis now faces first- rather than second-degree murder in the death of Aaliyah Rosa.

UPDATE: Injured firefighter in stable condition

Kelowna fire crews responded to a blaze at Pope’sGallery of BC Art & Photography on Friday

Book a ride on a driverless shuttle in Surrey or Vancouver

Automated vehicle demos are being offered, as the two cities plan pilot projects with the shuttles

Heavy snowfall expected on the Coquihalla

Snowfall warning in effect for the Coquihalla Highway, from Hope to Merritt

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Arrest made after historic B.C. church hit by arson

The fire at the 150-year-old Murray United Church in Merritt was considered a possible hate crime

Missing man from Crowsnest Pass could be in Lower Mainland

58-year-old Stuart David Duff was last seen on Jan. 6, 2019.

Most Read