Witness at murder trial of accused in girl’s death heard him talk about river

By Steve Lambert

 

THE CANADIAN PRESS

 

WINNIPEG _ About two weeks before a 15-year-old Indigenous girl’s body was found in the Red River, her accused killer argued loudly with her and mentioned something about a river, a Winnipeg courtroom was told Thursday.

 

The second-degree murder trial of Raymond Cormier, accused in the August 2014 death of Tina Fontaine, heard Thursday from Sarah Holland. Holland and her boyfriend at the time rented a townhouse and frequently let Cormier, who was homeless, sleep over.

 

Holland testified that Tina Fontaine came to her house twice that summer, and was brought the first time by her much-older friend Cormier, who was 52.

 

The second time, Holland said, Tina came over in the afternoon by herself and Cormier came later.

 

Holland said she was in her room upstairs when Tina came to her complaining about Cormier.

 

“She ran upstairs and asked if she could spend time in my room because he was creeping her out,” Holland said.

 

Cormier came upstairs with Holland’s boyfriend and tried to grope the 15-year-old Tina, Holland said.

 

“I observed him trying to grab her boobs a few times and

(saying) ‘just do me’.”

 

Holland said she told Cormier to go back downstairs and he did, while Tina stayed with her.

 

A few hours later, Holland said, Cormier and Tina were outside on the street, arguing loudly.

 

“I heard her yell she was going to call the cops,” Holland told the jury. “All I heard from Cormier was ‘river’.”

 

Under cross-examination, Holland admitted she couldn’t hear much of what Cormier was saying because he was not talking as loudly as Tina.

 

The dispute occurred on the night of August 6th, court was told.

 

Two days after that, Tina ran away from a hotel where she had been placed by Child and Family Services. On August 17, her body was pulled from the river, wrapped in a duvet cover and weighed down by rocks.

 

Court was told earlier in the trial Tina was a sexually exploited youth who had recently left her home on the Sagkeeng First Nation to visit her mother in Winnipeg. Her great-aunt in Sagkeeng alerted Child and Family Services when she couldn’t get ahold of Tina, and Tina ran away when placed in Winnipeg hotels and a youth shelter.

 

Cormier told police in a videotaped interview two months after Tina’s death that he and Tina did indeed argue on the street outside Sarah Holland’s home.

 

He said Tina was angry because he had sold her bicycle for drugs and walked away. He returned to the house and never saw her again, he told the officers.

 

Cormier also told police there was a man on the other side of the street that night, a little behind Tina, who might have followed her.

 

Cormier described the man as middle-aged with shoulder-length dirty blonde hair, and said he looked like Robert Plant, the singer for the 1970s rock group Led Zeppelin.

 

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