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
Polo Park to unveil expansion, new stores
Minister orders probe into care
School division proposes e-cigarette ban
RCMP revokes support for anti-terrorist handbook
Missing man, 61, believed headed to Kenora when last seen
Showers expected this afternoon
Taliban suicide bombers kill 7 in Kabul, wound 21
Big battle to stay in Winnipeg
Dalí exhibit sets record at the WAG
HBC hands over historic murals for museum display
NFL says Abdullah should not have been penalized
Even title is off-putting in distressing procedural
Hunger can hit all sorts of homes
'Sexist' baby PJs Target of Twitter outcry
Make room for mushrooms
Biotech industry blooming in Manitoba
Ford adds 1,000 jobs in Oakville, Ont.,