Neigh­bour tes­ti­fies at Borut­ski mur­der trial

While await­ing ar­rest, Basil Borut­ski texted a neigh­bour that he called ‘friend’

The Daily Observer - - FRONT PAGE - AEDAN HELMER

OTTAWA - After killing three women in a ram­page through the Up­per Ottawa Val­ley, while await­ing his ar­rest in a field near Kin­burn, Basil Borut­ski texted goodbye to a neigh­bour he called “friend,” court heard Wednesday.

Shirl Roesler, 57, lived down­stairs from Borut­ski at the Ren­frew County com­mu­nity hous­ing lowrise at 5967 Palmer Rd. in Palmer Rapids. She tes­ti­fied Wednesday about a con­ver­sa­tion she had with Borustki on the eve of the killings.

Borut­ski has re­mained silent in the pris­oner’s box de­fend­ing him­self on three counts of first­de­gree mur­der in the Septem­ber 2015 deaths of Carol Cul­leton, 66, Anas­ta­sia Kuzyk, 36, and Nathalie Warmer­dam, 48.

“Your car is at cot­tage … sorry … I left $100 (in) con­sole for gas … by (sic) friend,” reads the text Roesler re­ceived at 1:56 p.m. on Sept. 22, sev­eral hours after the killings.

Twenty min­utes later, with a po­lice of­fi­cer at her side as a guide, Roesler texted back: “Is my car at the cot­tage … Where r u.”

There was no re­ply in the text ex­change en­tered into ev­i­dence Wednesday.

On the wit­ness stand, Roesler was asked to re­fresh her mem­ory with the state­ment she gave po­lice that day, as she re­called her en­counter with a “very upset, very an­gry” Borut­ski the night be­fore.

“He was upset and he needed some­one to talk to,” she said. “It had some­thing to do with Carol, some­thing to do with their re­la­tion­ship. Things that she did be­hind his back … sleep­ing with other men. He was very mad, and very an­gry with her.

“One thing that stuck out, he said karma was gonna come back and get her,” said Roesler, who said she re­called those ex­act words. “But that could mean any­thing.”

She tes­ti­fied the con­ver­sa­tion took place be­tween 6 and 7 p.m. on Mon­day, Sept. 21, 2015. She told court she could place the time of the en­counter — just a lit­tle after her evening rit­ual of watch­ing The Young and the Rest­less.

She was fol­low­ing the news the next morn­ing when word spread of the killing spree.

Borut­ski ad­mit­ted to killing the women the fol­low­ing day in a po­lice in­ter­view shown in court, but told an OPP detective he be­lieved it was “not mur­der.”

A foren­sic pathol­o­gist tes­ti­fied Cul­leton was stran­gled to death, and Kuzyk and Warmer­dam were both killed by a shot­gun.

Roesler told court she knew Borut­ski only a few months, but re­called one con­ver­sa­tion about a gun.

“Just that he wanted a gun, for hunt­ing. I don’t re­mem­ber the ex­act date (of the con­ver­sa­tion). It was a while be­fore … a month or so be­fore.”

Roesler told court that after Borut­ski fixed her front brakes for free, she started lend­ing him her car, a light-coloured 2000 Chrysler sedan. He would bor­row it as many as 10 times a week, she said, and she gave him a set of keys.

Roesler told court she once re­called driv­ing him to the cot­tage on Ka­man­iskeg Lake, which she rec­og­nized as “Carol’s cot­tage” in a photo shown in court. Her car was shown parked out front, where it was found by po­lice at the scene of the first of the day’s killings.

On Tues­day, court was shown sur­veil­lance video footage of Borustki leav­ing the Palmer Rapids apart­ment com­plex early that morn­ing, dressed in cam­ou­flage pants car­ry­ing a white plas­tic bag, and pulling out of the park­ing lot in a car iden­ti­fied as Roesler’s sedan.

Roesler, ap­pear­ing ner­vous, was hav­ing dif­fi­culty on the stand re­call­ing a con­ver­sa­tion she had with Borut­ski, specif­i­cally what she told po­lice two years ago about his trou­bles with Cul­leton.

She was asked by the Crown to re­fer to her state­ment, where she told po­lice she heard Borut­ski make dis­parag­ing re­marks about Cul­leton.

“He said she was un­sta­ble, she was just los­ing it,” she said.

Roe sler,wi th the Crown again call­ing upon her state­ment to re­fresh her mem­ory, re­called Borut­ski say­ing, “She was afraid of him.”

Jus­tice Robert Maranger ad­journed early Wednesday after court-ap­pointed am­i­cus cu­riae (friend of the court) James Fo­ord raised what the jury was told was a “tech­ni­cal is­sue” on the ev­i­dence.

The trial re­sumes Thursday.

KELLY EGAN/OTTAWA CIT­I­ZEN

Shirl Roesler, 55, spoke to OPP de­tec­tives on Wednesday, Septem­ber 23, 2015 about her neigh­bour, Basil Borut­ski, who lived in the unit above her at the Mead­ow­vale apart­ments in Palmer Rapids.

Text mes­sages be­tween Basil Borut­ski and Palmer Rapids neigh­bour Shirl Roesler on the day of the killings, Sept. 22, 2015.

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