Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Posted: 02/10/2014 1:42 PM
Last Modified: 02/10/2014 3:40 PM | Updates
A Winnipeg man accused of igniting a bathhouse fire which killed two men told a friend that they should set the place on fire, a Crown prosecutor alleged Monday.
A jury trial for Justin James Rosdobutko, 29, got underway this morning.
He's accused of manslaughter in connection to the Oct. 11, 2009 fire-related deaths of Steven Yablonski, 23, and Robert Gene Clark, 62, at the Aquarius Men's Bathhouse at 457 Notre Dame Ave.
Rosdobutko has pleaded not guilty. He's accused of setting two separate fires in the building early that morning.
The Crown intends to call only five witnesses in the case, Crown attorney Deann Sahulka told jurors.
"You have heard me say this matter will be brief. That is not to say it will be simple. The evidence will be detailed," she said. "Decide the case only on the evidence you hear," said Sahulka.
In addition to police officers and an expert from Manitoba's fire commissioner's office, a friend of Rosdobutko's is expected to testify that they were present at the bathhouse that morning, jurors were told.
Just prior to the fire, Rosdobutko told the friend "that they should burn the bathhouse down," alleged Sahulka, adding that afterwards, Rosdobutko "confessed" to the friend that he had set the blaze. The fire was not set in the presence of the witness, said Sahulka.
Yablonski, a popular local entertainer, and Clark, who hailed from Saskatchewan, died of smoke inhalation. Up to 40 other people managed to escape the massive blaze.
The fire caused about $500,000 damage to the property. The bathhouse's owner, Somchai Pengpharsuks, lost another business to arson in 1999, the King and Alexander Steam Baths.
Updated on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 3:40 PM CST: Steven Yablonski was 23.
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Bipole III the 'biggest boondoggle in Manitoba history': Pallister
City paramedics take special Ebola precautions 4 times
Games should remind us of what Canada is all about
'Nobody's going to believe her': defence lawyer on accused in dead infants case
Key of Bart: Choose Yourself
Man missing in Pembina Valley Provincial Park
Inquests called into prison deaths
City police checking in on kids' hockey this winter
Ukraine teeters on brink of revolution
Powder-filled envelope at consulate in Turkey
Maddin's 'My Winnipeg' gets Criterion treatment
Tickets to One Direction on sale Nov. 1
'Growler bars' for draft beer now in Manitoba
Result shocks Bowman
Jets can reset their season now after an awkward, fumbling start
Missing girl, 16, believed to be travelling west
Ouellette's star still on the rise
First Nation brings Hydro protest to HQ
Björk's human nature shines through multimedia overload
China launches experimental moon orbiter
Bill Murray’s reliable grumpiness gives sharp edge to sentimental premise
U.K. firm to design this year's pop-up eatery
Sweden calls off search for submarine
Man alleged to have gun on bus remanded
Warm today, but chance of flurries next week
Fletcher told caregiver to run for it, if she could
Tunisian forces raid home, kill 6 suspects
Queen sends 1st tweet, signed 'Elizabeth R'