Raymond Cormier tried to run away from police during arrest, officer testifies at murder trial

Raymond Cormier's trial heard Wednesday that the man accused of killing Tina Fontaine tried to run away from police when they arrested him, and saw a videotaped interview with police in which he denied killing the teen.

'Don't focus on me … 'cause I didn't do it,' Cormier says in videotaped interview played in court Wednesday

Doctor testifies she tried to help Fontaine, worried she was being sexually exploited. 1:56

Raymond Cormier tried to run away when Winnipeg police arrested him, one of the officers involved in the arrest testified Wednesday afternoon at Cormier's second-degree murder trial.

Cormier, 56, is being tried by a jury of eight women and four men for the killing of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine. Her body was pulled from the Red River in Winnipeg on Aug. 17, 2014. Cormier has pleaded not guilty to killing the teen.

On Wednesday, Sgt. Wade McDonald testified that on Oct. 1, 2014, he and his partner, Det. Scott Taylor, encountered Cormier at a house at 22 Carmen Ave., where they went to interview a woman during their investigation into Tina's death.

The court heard an inmate at Milner Ridge Correctional Centre had told police they should speak to a woman named Sarah Holland, who lived at the Carmen Avenue house.

McDonald testified that when Holland got into their unmarked police cruiser, he noticed a man matching Cormier's description throwing some garbage out the back door of the house.

"He stared directly at me," McDonald said. 

The officer said Cormier had already been identified by police as a suspect in the case, so he called his boss. McDonald said the officers were told to arrest Cormier.

​While Taylor went inside to get him, McDonald went around to the back door. He said he heard screaming from inside the house, then saw Cormier run out the back door.

After a short chase, Cormier tried to jump over a fence and McDonald grabbed his ankle. Cormier fell and McDonald and Taylor handcuffed him and took him into custody.

Denied killing teen

The jury also watched a video of the interview police conducted with Cormier after his arrest. In it, Cormier told police he never had sexual contact with Tina, but admitted when he first met her, before he found out she was just a child, he thought she was a "hot ticket."

During the videotaped interrogation, the officers told Cormier he was under arrest for the murder of Tina Fontaine, but that he hadn't been formally charged with the crime.

"I don't understand how you can arrest somebody for murder and not charge them. It doesn't make sense to me," Cormier said during the interview.

"Don't focus on me as the guy who did it, 'cause I didn't do it," Cormier said in the video, in which he is seen with his long hair tied back in a pony tail, sitting with his head resting against the wall much of the time.

Cormier told police he met Tina five or six times, but no more then 10, and that the last time was just days before her body was found.

Argument with Tina

He said Tina came to the house on Carmen Avenue riding a stolen bike and she was crying because her boyfriend, Cody Mason, had flown back to his home community of St. Theresa Point.
Tina Fontaine, 15, was murdered and dumped in the Red River in 2014. (Facebook)

In the interview, Cormier told the officers that Sarah Holland and Ty, her boyfriend at the time, were also at the home, and that they drank and smoked marijuana together. He said he then took Tina's bike to get more.

Cormier sold the bike, he said in the interview, for two grams of marijuana, and when he told Tina she got upset and left the house. Cormier followed her down Glenwood Crescent and the two got into an argument.

"Yelling and screaming, she said something and I got pissed off. Said 'so long, see you later.'"

Cormier said as they were walking, he saw another man on the sidewalk across the street, who he described as white with long hair, and looking like Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant. Cormier suggested police should be looking for the white-haired man.

He told police in the interview that he heard about Tina's death from news reports a few days after their argument.

Hanging out with 'meth user'

Cormier's trial heard earlier Wednesday from a Child and Family Services worker who picked Tina Fontaine up from the hospital on the day before she disappeared, who testified she was concerned after the teen told her "she was hanging out with a 62-year-old man named Sebastian who was a meth user."

Sebastian is a name police have said was used by Cormier.
Sebastian is a name police have said was used by Cormier.

On Tuesday, a former University of Winnipeg security guard testified she found Tina lying on the ground in the parking lot behind the Helen Betty Osborne Centre on Ellice Avenue.

After paramedics took the teen to the Children's Hospital at Health Sciences Centre, the hospital social worker phoned the Southeast Child and Family Services agency, which was in charge of Tina's care.

Kimberley Chute was the social worker on duty and went to the hospital to get the teen. After Tina was discharged, Chute took her to a McDonald's restaurant, saying the teen looked "very skinny."

While they were waiting in the drive-thru, Tina mentioned she had lost her bike and she wanted a new one.

"She said her friend was going to find her a bike. She said her friend Sebastian was going to get her a bike," Chute said.

"I asked her what she likes to do with Sebastian and she responded that she just liked to chill."

Chute said she tried to convince Tina to remain in CFS care by saying they had money available to help her get a bike.

She said she would go to Portage Place; she would go see some friends and she'd be back.- Complete Care worker Ngozi Ikeh

The doctor who examined Tina at the hospital also testified on Wednesday, saying she was concerned the teen was being sexually exploited.

Dr. Andrea Wilkie Gilmore said Tina appeared drowsy but easily rousable, and didn't appear to have any injuries other than a blister on her lip, which she said she got from falling a couple of days earlier.

Blood tests showed Tina had a blood alcohol content of about .09, and urine tests came back positive for amphetamines, cannabinoids, cocaine and alcohol.

When Chute arrived at the hospital, she asked Tina if she had taken any substances.

"She told me she was taking gabbies and alcohol. She said she drank three beers," Chute said.

Wanted to go to Portage Place

Gabbies is a street term for the prescription drug gabapentin. Tina's former boyfriend Cody Mason told court on Tuesday that a man named Sebastian gave them gabbies.

After taking Tina to McDonald's, Chute drove her to the Best Western Charterhouse Hotel.

"She mentioned that she wanted to go to Portage Place [Shopping Centre] and I strongly advised her that she should stay put and sleep," Chute said.

Chute said Portage Place was known as a place where children are often exploited, and where drugs are available for purchase.

Chute left Tina in the care of a worker with Complete Care, a company contracted by CFS to look after kids in care while they are in hotels.

Ngozi Ikeh was the Complete Care worker who met Tina. She also said the teen mentioned wanting to go to Portage Place, and that she tried to convince her to stay at the hotel and rest.

"She said she would go to Portage Place; she would go see some friends and she'd be back," Ikeh said.

Fontaine never returned. 

The trial, which is scheduled to last five weeks, resumes Thursday. 

With files from Caroline Barghout