‘No grounds’ to ap­peal ac­quit­tal in Tina Fon­taine case: Crown

Com­mu­nity hurt­ing over lack of ap­peal

Metro Canada (Toronto) - - Canada -

The Crown will not ap­peal the ac­quit­tal of a man who was ac­cused of killing 15-yearold Tina Fon­taine and dump­ing her body in a Win­nipeg river.

Pros­e­cu­tors said in a state­ment Tues­day that only er­rors in law can be ap­pealed when some­one is found not guilty.

“Af­ter a crit­i­cal re­view ... by the Man­i­toba Pros­e­cu­tion Ser­vice’s ap­peal unit and the Crown at­tor­neys who pros­e­cuted the case, it has been de­ter­mined there are no grounds to base a suc­cess­ful ap­peal.”

A jury found Ray­mond Cormier not guilty last month of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der in the Indige­nous girl’s death.

Her body, wrapped in a du­vet cover and weighed down by rocks, was pulled from the Red River eight days af­ter she dis­ap­peared in 2014.

Grand Chief Sheila North, who rep­re­sents First Na­tions com­mu­ni­ties in north­ern Man­i­toba, said the lack of an ap­peal leaves peo­ple hurt­ing.

“This is just another blow to the re­al­ity that the jus­tice sys­tem has failed Tina Fon­taine and her fam­ily,” North said.

“It just leaves another gap­ing hole in the hearts of ... Indige­nous peo­ple.”

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

Favel called Man­i­toba Child and Fam­ily Ser­vices with con­cerns about Fon­taine, 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.

The jury heard how Fon­taine and her boyfriend met the much-older Cormier that sum­mer. The jury heard Cormier gave the cou­ple a place to stay, as well as drugs.

Wit­nesses re­called Fon­taine and Cormier fight­ing in the street over a stolen truck and Fon­taine ac­cus­ing him of sell­ing her bike for drugs. She went so far as to re­port a stolen truck to po­lice.

Wit­nesses tes­ti­fied Cormier had a du­vet cover sim­i­lar to the one Fon­taine was wrapped in.

Cormier was also recorded on tape dur­ing a po­lice un­der­cover st­ing telling a woman that he would make a bet that Fon­taine was killed be­cause he had sex with her and then “I found out she was 15 years old.”

There was no DNA ev­i­dence link­ing Cormier to the teen and doc­tors who were called to tes­tify said they could not defini­tively say how she died.

The de­fence ar­gued that the Crown couldn’t prove that Fon­taine didn’t die from a drug over­dose or nat­u­rally in what Cormier’s lawyer called the “un­der­belly of the city.”

De­fence lawyer An­thony Ka­vanagh said Tues­day the ac­quit­tal was the right de­ci­sion.

“The di­verse and ex­tremely rep­re­sen­ta­tive jury did their job hon­ourably,” Ka­vanagh wrote in a text mes­sage.

“Sim­ply put, ev­i­dence — not emo­tion — is re­quired for a con­vic­tion and de­spite the hu­man de­sire to find a con­ve­nient scape­goat, jus­tice was done here.”

The ac­quit­tal sparked ral­lies of protest and sup­port for Fon­taine’s fam­ily in cities across the coun­try. It came weeks af­ter another ac­quit­tal in a high-pro­file case in Saskatchewan.

A jury found Ger­ald Stan­ley not guilty in the death of Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Indige­nous man who was shot in the head af­ter he and some of his friends drove onto Stan­ley’s farm.

Stan­ley tes­ti­fied he thought the young peo­ple were steal­ing and he fired warn­ing shots to scare them off. He said the shot that killed Boushie was an ac­ci­dent.

Last week, the Crown in Saskatchewan also de­cided against an ap­peal in that case, say­ing it could find no er­ror in law.


Peo­ple rally in Cal­gary last month in hon­our of Tina Fon­taine, who was mur­dered in Au­gust 2014. A jury found a man ac­cused in her death not guilty of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der.

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