Raymond Cormier, Tina Fontaine argued shortly before teen disappeared, witness testifies
Accused murderer and teen argued over stolen truck, bicycle shortly before she disappeared, trial hears
A witness at Raymond Cormier's second-degree murder trial told the court Friday that the last time he saw Tina Fontaine, she was arguing at a house in Elmwood with Cormier, the man now accused of killing her.
Tyrell Morrison, 30, said he met both Tina and Cormier in the summer of 2014. Cormier brought Tina and her boyfriend to the house Morrison lived at with his girlfriend, Sarah Holland, on Carmen Avenue in Winnipeg, where Morrison said the group would drink and do drugs together.
Cormier, 56, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in connection with Tina's 2014 death. The 15-year-old girl's body was pulled from the Red River in Winnipeg, wrapped in a duvet cover weighted down with rocks, on Aug. 17, 2014.
Friday was the 10th day of the trial, being heard by a judge and a jury of eight women and four men.
Morrison told court Friday he only met Tina a couple of times, but said Cormier would come by the house on an almost daily basis. Morrison said he and Cormier, who Morrison called "Frenchie," did not get along, and he didn't like Cormier coming to the house as often as he did.
In a videotaped police interrogation shown in court earlier this week, Cormier said he met Holland and Morrison through a mutual friend, Ernest DeWolfe. During the interview, Cormier talked about being attracted to Holland and described an incident in July 2014 when he said he walked in on Morrison assaulting Holland.
"I came close to committing the first murder of [my] life that night. I still don't know why I didn't drive that screwdriver through his f--king heart," Cormier said to police in the video.
Kavanagh to Morrison “you didn’t like Frenchie did you”? Morrison says “no”. He says he didn’t like that Cormier came around the house so much but liked that he brought drugs. He said Cormier was mad at him after he assaulted Holland and physically threw him out in mid July.—@cbarghout
Morrison was charged with assaulting and sexually assaulting Holland and sent to Milner Ridge Correctional Centre, northeast of Winnipeg, in Oct. 2014.
Morrison said the first time he met Tina, she came to the house with Cormier and her boyfriend, and they partied for several hours. Morrison said he saw Cormier give Tina crack cocaine.
Left for beer, returned with truck
He testified that the last time he saw Tina was about six days later, when she arrived at the house on a bike, crying because her boyfriend had left.
During testimony on Thursday, Holland told the court the date was Aug. 6, two days before Tina walked out of the Best Western Charterhouse Hotel — where she had been housed by Child and Family Services — and never returned.
At one point, Morrison said he remembers coming downstairs and seeing Cormier lying on the couch with his head resting in Tina's lap. When Morrison came down the stairs, he said Cormier jerked up quickly.
Morrison said Cormier left to go get more beer, and Tina cleaned the house.
"When she was done I made her some lunch to thank her for cleaning up," Morrison said.
Cormier later returned with a truck that had a toolbox and power tools in the back.
Crown prosecutor Jim Ross asked Morrison if Cormier told him where he got the truck.
"He didn't tell me anything at first, but then he said he got it from a [beer] vendor with keys in it," Morrison said.
After helping Cormier bring the tools from the truck into the house, Morrison said Holland got angry. He testified that he told Tina to throw the truck keys out of the house.
Morrison said Cormier became angry when she did. Their argument escalated after Tina found out Cormier had taken her bike and sold it for drugs, Morrison said.
Tina left the house and she and Cormier continued arguing with each other outside.
In the interrogation video shown earlier in the week, Cormier told police that he and Tina argued at the house on Carmen Avenue, but said he never saw her again.
Later, when Morrison told Cormier about the teen's death and that she was only 15 years old, Cormier said, "I guess that's why she didn't put out," Morrison testified.
He admitted Friday to having difficulty recalling some events and details, due to heavy substance use at the time of the events he described. After saying he met Tina three times, he then corrected himself and said it was only two times.
During cross-examination, defence counsel Tony Kavanagh pointed out that Morrison's initial statements to police in 2014 made no mention of a truck or tools, and it wasn't until police told Morrison in December 2015 that his DNA had been found inside the truck that he mentioned it.
Kavanagh suggested to Morrison that he didn't tell police to hide his involvement.
"I'm suggesting to you that you had equal opportunity to assault and or hurt Tina Fontaine," Kavanagh said. Morrison denied that.
The trial, scheduled for five weeks, continues Monday.
With files from Caroline Barghout