Acquittal of accused in Tina Fontaine’s death disappoints Winnipeg police chief

Winnipeg’s police chief says he’s disappointed that a jury acquitted a man accused of killing 15-year-old teenager Tina Fontaine.

Raymond Cormier was found not guilty last week of second-degree murder in the 2014 death of the teen, whose body was wrapped in a duvet cover and weighed down with rocks when it was found in the Red River.

Chief Danny Smyth told the city’s police services board that he had hoped for a different outcome.

He said it’s clear the jury didn’t find enough evidence to convict and he wished police could have brought forward a more compelling case.

But Smyth commended the officers who he said worked hard on the case and thanked prosecutors for taking it to trial.

He said Tina’s death has prompted change and pointed to Manitoba no longer housing children in care in hotels.

“If not anything else, this trial provided transparency,” Smyth said Friday. “The community was able to learn about the investigation. They were able to see evidence and learn about the circumstances that led up to Tina’s death.”

Tina was raised by her great-aunt, Thelma Favel, on the Sagkeeng First Nation, 120 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. She left to visit her mother in Winnipeg at the end of June 2014 and became an exploited youth.

Favel called Child and Family Services with concerns about Tina, who ran away repeatedly from a youth shelter and hotels where she was placed.

She was last seen leaving a downtown hotel, where she told a private contract worker employed by child welfare that she was going to a shopping centre to meet friends.

It’s not known how Tina died. A pathologist testified at the trial that the girl’s death was suspicious because of the manner in which her body was found.

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