Raymond Cormier discusses death of Tina Fontaine in police recordings as Crown wraps case
Police made secret recordings of Cormier during investigation into death of 15-year-old girl
The Crown wrapped up its case in the trial of Raymond Cormier by playing audio recordings made by police in which he talks about the killing of Tina Fontaine.
"15-year-old girl f--k. I drew the line and that's why she got killed. She got killed, I'll make you a bet. She got killed because we found out, I found out she was 15 years old," Cormier said in a conversation with an unknown woman on July 17, 2015.
Cormier, 56, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of the 15-year-old girl from Sagkeeng First Nation, in August 2014.
Cormier has pleaded not guilty and his trial, now in its 12th day, is being heard before the Court of Queen's Bench in Winnipeg by Chief Justice Glenn Joyal and a jury of seven women and four men. A 12th juror was excused from duty because of a family emergency.
Tina's 72-pound body was pulled from the Red River near the Alexander Docks in Winnipeg, wrapped in a duvet cover and weighted down with rocks, on Aug. 17, 2014. The cause of her death was never determined.
Cormier was arrested on Oct. 1, 2014, for murder but police didn't immediately charge him. He was sentenced to prison time on unrelated charges and released in June 2015, which is when police launched an operation dubbed Project Styx.
The recordings were made using probes inside an apartment Cormier was living in at 400 Logan Ave., as well as "body packs" worn by undercover officers.
Wednesday afternoon, the jury listened to the recordings made by probes inside Cormier's apartment. In the recordings, Cormier frequently rambles and his words are often hard to understand. The jury listened with the aid of headphones and a transcript prepared by police.
While the recordings played, Cormier sat in the prisoner's box, arms crossed, with no expression on his face.
'What do I do? Threw her in"
"You ever been haunted by something?" Cormier asks a woman in a recording from Sept. 25, 2015. "What happened there really f--king it's not right. F--k. It's right on the shore. So what do I do? Threw her in.
"I did Tina, f--kin' supposed to be legal and only 15. (inaudible) No going back too. The cops said if there would have been DNA and then probably they would've had enough evidence to charge, you know that, for the murder of Tina Fontaine."
Cormier later tells the woman: "I beat two murders."
At other points in the recordings, Cormier says he wants to find the person who killed Tina.
Describing the first time he met Tina, he says the teen flashed her breasts at him.
He also contradicts himself in places, at times saying he had sex with the 15-year-old — which would be sexual assault because legally she would have been too young to consent — and at other points saying he wishes he had.
Before listening to the recordings, the jury heard testimony from Const. Parampreet Singh Sahota, who proofed the transcripts of the recordings.
During cross-examination, defence counsel Andrew Synyshyn pressed Sahota on whether or not he was certain the transcript was accurate. Sahota replied that any words he couldn't confidently identify were marked "inaudible."
Synyshyn also pointed out that at no point did Cormier admit to killing Tina.
"He doesn't say 'I killed her,' does he?" Synyshyn said. "He says that's why she was killed [because of her age]."
Cormier jokes in another recording that a woman had better not overdose, otherwise her body will be wrapped in a carpet and thrown in the river.
The final recording played in court was made on Nov. 19, 2015, when Cormier was alone in his apartment. In between long gaps of silence, Cormier can be heard speaking to himself.
"You think you'll get the murder out of me. Hmm. That's f--kin' it, man. Get away from me. Get away from me," he said.
'There's 3 rules in crime: deny, deny, deny'
Earlier on Wednesday the jury listened to recordings made using the body packs worn by undercover officers.
Both undercover officers, whose names CBC News has chosen to withhold so as not to jeopardize future investigations, testified in court.
The first officer who testified told the court he and Cormier were set up in apartments on the same floor at 400 Logan Ave. The officer said he arranged a scenario in which he met Cormier in the hallway and proceeded to befriend him, offering him odd jobs and engaging him in conversation.
The entire project consisted of 62 "scenarios" over the course of about six months designed to elicit information and gather evidence. The jury listened with the aid of a transcript to two recordings made by the officers.
In one of the recordings, Cormier tells the undercover officer that he wanted to have sex with Tina when he first met her, before he found out her age. When it was played, Tina's great-aunt Thelma Favel left the courtroom, crying.
Later in the recording, Cormier talks about the night on Aug. 6, 2014, when he and Tina argued at a house at 22 Carmen Ave. Court has heard that Cormier had a stolen truck at the house, and Tina got upset and left because Cormier had taken her bike and sold it for drugs.
"I brought her. I should have f--king grabbed her ass and brought her back in. Get the f--k inside, you silly c--t. But I didn't do that. So off she went and the next thing you f--kin' know, Sarah told me, 'Frenchie.' 'What?' 'Tina's dead (inaudible).' I muttered, 'F--k off.'"
Cormier said Tina's last words to him were about being homeless.
"My last word, man, f--kin' hurt me and I'll always regret saying, 'Well, jump off that f--kin' bridge then.' When she started complainin' about being homeless I, I f--kin' got pissed off and said I'm homeless, too, what the f--k are you trying to say?
"What she was trying to say is that she didn't know how to survive homeless. I do."
Cormier tells the officer that he was arrested for the murder of Tina Fontaine, and that he thinks his meth dealer told police that he did it. He also says he believes police might have had something to do with her death.
He also discusses the stolen truck, saying: "I may or may not have been in possession of a stolen truck at the time."
Crown prosecutor Jim Ross asked the officer what Cormier was doing when he was talking about the truck.
"When he said that he was winking at me," the officer testified.
The recording ends with Cormier talking about the stolen truck.
"There's three rules in crime: deny, deny, deny," Cormier says.
Court also heard the undercover officer and a female undercover officer, posing as a couple, faked a domestic violence incident inside the male officer's apartment. The female officer, who had been introduced to Cormier earlier, was made up to look as if she had been assaulted, and Cormier walked in to see her lying on the floor, pretending to be unconscious.
Cormier then watched as another person came and took the female officer away in a truck.
The jury then listened to a recording made by the female officer before the domestic violence scenario, in which she went to the officer's apartment pretending to be upset, pounding on his door and screaming.
Cormier came out of his apartment, and in the recording asks what is going on. The officer tells Cormier that her "boyfriend," who used the fake name Mohammed, isn't returning her phone calls and she demands to know where he is.
In the recording, Cormier tries to calm the woman down and promises to tell Mohammed to call her. He then tries to get her to go into his apartment.
"Give me your hand. I'm going to introduce you to my girlfriend, I'm going to introduce you to my best friend," he said.
The officer testified in court that Cormier got very close to her during their conversation.
"He was very much in my personal space," she said.
Now that the Crown has wrapped up its case, it's unknown whether the defence will call any witnesses to testify. The trial could wrap up as early as next week.
With files from Caroline Barghout