December 6, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
A Winnipeg man has been ordered to stand trial for the random killing of a city senior whose body was found stuffed in the trunk of her stolen car.
Thomas Anthony Joseph Brine, 27, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder for the February 2011 attack on 73-year-old Elizabeth Lafantaisie. A preliminary hearing ended Wednesday with a judge ruling there was sufficient evidence for the case to proceed to trial. A court-ordered publication ban prevents specific details and evidence in the hearing from being published. No trial dates have been set.
First-degree murder implies the killing was planned or premeditated, but it can also be used in cases in which a person is killed in the course of a confinement and/or robbery. A conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 25 years.
Justice sources previously told the Free Press the slaying was being viewed as a possible carjacking that ended in her death. Brine was arrested five days after police found Lafantaisie’s abandoned 2006 Grand Prix with her body wrapped inside the trunk. An autopsy revealed she had been strangled.
Police said the break in the case came from forensic evidence. Investigators from the WPS homicide unit and missing persons unit had canvassed more than 1,000 suites in connection with the death. Officers also reviewed numerous surveillance tapes from various businesses.
Lafantaisie was last seen Feb. 18 of 2011 in the Royalwood area of the city where family said she’d been cleaning a home. Police had previously said belongings such as Lafantaisie’s purse led officers on a trail for the missing woman. Her sister told the Free Press the purse had been stripped of money when it was found.
Updated on Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 3:15 PM CDT:
corrects exact name of accused.