WINNIPEG — Jurors in Winnipeg are to continue deliberating today at the trial of the man accused of killing 15-year-old Tina Fontaine and dumping her body in the Red River.
Raymond Cormier, 56, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the August 2014 slaying of Fontaine, whose body was found wrapped in a duvet that was weighted down with rocks.
Her death reignited calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.
Manitoba Chief Justice Glenn Joyal spent three hours Wednesday instructing the seven woman, four man jury on the key issues in the case and how to come to a decision.
He explained that there are only two questions that the jurors need answer.
“Unless you are satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt the Crown has proved that Tina Fontaine’s death was caused by an unlawful act and that the accused Raymond Cormier committed the unlawful act you must find Raymond Cormier not guilty of second-degree murder. Your deliberations will be over,” Joyal said.
“If you are satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt Raymond Cormier committed the unlawful act that caused the death of Tina Fontaine you must find Raymond Cormier guilty of second-degree murder as charged.”
The jury has 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.
Joyal urged the jurors to keep an open mind while discussing the case.
“The jury’s decision is a group decision. Everyone has a say and an equal say. Your duty is to consult with each other. The verdict must be based on the facts as you find them,” he said.
“For there to be a verdict in this case it is necessary for all 11 jurors to agree on a decision. In other words a verdict whether of not guilty or guilty expresses the unanimous opinion of the jury.”