Basil Borutski appears in Pembroke court

Basil Borutski, charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the September 2015 deaths of three women near Wilno, Ont., appeared in a Pembroke courtroom Tuesday morning.

Accused in September 2015 killings of 3 Wilno-area women remains without legal representation

Basil Borutski, 58, appeared in a Pembroke courtroom Tuesday morning to face three charges of first-degree murder in the deaths of three women near Wilno, Ont., in September 2015. His next appearance has been set for March 3, 2016. (Supplied photo)

Basil Borutski made a brief appearance in a Pembroke, Ont., courtroom on three charges of first-degree murder Tuesday morning.

Borutski, 58, was arrested in rural west Ottawa Sept. 22, 2015, after the bodies of 36-year-old Anastasia Kuzyk, 48-year-old Nathalie Warmerdam and 66-year-old Carol Culleton were found by police within approximately 25 kilometres of each other around Wilno, Ont.

Wilno is approximately 70 kilometres southwest of Pembroke and approximately 180 kilometres west of downtown Ottawa. 

Friends and family of both Borutski and the victims said all three women knew him.

Still no lawyer

Borutski sat calmly in front of 35 to 40 members of the public in courtroom one of the Pembroke courthouse Tuesday. He was wearing a green coat and dark pants.

When asked by Justice Bob Selkirk if he still doesn't want a lawyer, Borutski shrugged. Selkirk said that given the "very serious" nature of the charges against him, a lawyer will eventually be appointed for him.

Renfrew County Crown attorney Jeffrey Richardson said he had just received disclosure — the case against Borutski — from police on Dec. 23 and asked for time to allow Borutski to go over it. 

Borutski will next appear via video link on March 3.

Support for centre

As they have been for all of Borutski's court appearances, a group of people held signs in support of the Women's Sexual Assault Centre of Renfrew County on the sidewalk outside the courthouse.

JoAnne Brooks sets up signs outside the Pembroke courthouse Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2015. (CBC)

The centre's director said they want to honour and remember the victims while drawing attention to violence against women, something they believe they're doing more of since the killings.

"I think that Renfrew County is forever changed... A lot of people who have never really paid attention to the issues of violence against women have really stopped and said, 'What is this, I want to know more and I want to do something about it,'" said JoAnne Brooks.

"That is very empowering, I think, for our community."

Brooks said the centre has received more donations, more people calling to volunteer and more requests for them to do public speaking than they had before Sept. 22.

She also said the provincial government's roundtable on violence against women asked the centre for its "wish list" of the specific issues facing rural communities.