Witness testifies accused argued with Tina Fontaine a few weeks before death

WINNIPEG – A witness told a Winnipeg murder trial he saw the man accused in the death of Tina Fontaine fighting with the 15-year-old a few weeks before her body was found.

Raymond Cormier, who is 55, is on trial for second-degree murder in the death of the Indigenous girl whose body was found wrapped in a duvet filled with rocks in the Red River on Aug. 17, 2014.

Tyrell Morrison, who is 30, told court Friday he and his girlfriend were renting a townhouse that summer and Cormier, who was homeless, would frequently stay over. Morrison testified that Cormier, who he knew as Frenchy, started coming to the house daily and they would do drugs, including methamphetamine and crack cocaine.

Morrison told court he met Tina when Cormier brought her and her boyfriend around.

Morrison testified the last time he saw Tina a few weeks before she disappeared, she was fighting with Cormier about a stolen truck and a bicycle.

Tina had come over to the house and Cormier followed a few hours afterwards, Morrison said. At one point, Morrison told court he walked into the living room and saw Cormier with his head in Tina’s lap.

Cormier left the house and later came back with a truck, which Morrison testified Cormier said was stolen. Morrison started loading tools from the truck into the house, but said his girlfriend Sarah Holland got angry. Morrison told court that was why his DNA was found in the back of the truck.

He testified that he told Tina to throw away the truck keys, which led to a fight between Tina and Cormier. Tina was also angry that her bike frame had been sold.

Holland testified Thursday that during the fight she heard Cormier say “river.”

Eventually Tina stormed off and Cormier followed her for a few blocks, Morrison said.

In a videotaped interview two months after Tina’s death, which was played in court earlier this week, Cormier said he and Tina did indeed argue on the street but after Tina walked away he returned to the house and never saw her again.

Court was told earlier in the trial that Tina was a sexually exploited youth who had recently left her home on the Sagkeeng First Nation. She had run away when Child and Family Services placed her in Winnipeg hotels and a youth shelter.

Morrison told court he discussed Tina’s death with Cormier and told him Tina was only 15.

During cross examination, defence lawyer Tony Kavanagh asked Morrison why he didn’t initially tell police about the stolen truck, especially since his DNA was found on it. Kavanagh suggested Morrison also had an “equal opportunity to assault or harm Tina Fontaine.”

“No,” Morrison replied.

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