Closing arguments in murder trial for man accused of killing Tina Fontaine

Raymond Cormier, 56, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the August 2014 slaying of Tina Fontaine.

WINNIPEG – Lawyers are expected to make their final pitches Tuesday in the case of a man accused of killing an Indigenous teenage girl and wrapping her body in a duvet cover before dumping her in Winnipeg’s Red River.

Jurors are to hear final arguments at the trial of Raymond Cormier, 56, who has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the August 2014 slaying of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine. Her death reignited calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.

The jury has already heard that Tina was raised by her great-aunt on the Sagkeeng First Nation, 120 kilometres north of Winnipeg, but went to the city to visit her mother. It was there that the girl became an exploited youth.

Court was told there were no witnesses to Tina’s death and no DNA linking her to the accused. Experts testified they don’t know how she died.

Crown prosecutors said the teen was killed and dumped in the river by Cormier, who had sex with her and found out she was a minor.

The Crown presented audio recordings from a six-month undercover investigation in 2015 during which police bugged Cormier’s apartment.

Audio recordings captured him, often mumbling and stuttering, telling multiple people he was attracted to Tina and had sex with her.

In one recording, Cormier was heard telling a woman that he would make a bet that Tina was killed because “I found out she was 15 years old.”

In another, Cormier was heard arguing with a woman and saying that there was a little girl in a “grave someplace screaming at the top of her lungs for me to finish the job. And guess what? I finished the job.”

In conversations with an undercover officer who moved onto the same floor where Cormier lived, the accused said there were “three rules to crime: deny, deny deny.”

The defence, which closed its case without presenting any evidence, told court the recordings could have been misheard and the transcripts could have errors.

It’s expected jurors will begin deliberating on Wednesday after instructions from Court of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal.

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