Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Witness testifies accused was not drinking before slayings

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He may have been dressed "gangster style," but Kenneth Roulette wasn't seen drinking or acting aggressively in the hours before police allege he brutally murdered two Mad Cowz street gang-associate friends, a Winnipeg jury heard today.

"He was just on his cellphone most of the time," Tara Lee Tukundum told court as she was called to testify at Roulette's ongoing first degree-murder trial.

Tukundum is the sister of Dennis Baptise's common-law wife Krystal Merrick. Baptiste and Jessie Henderson, both 23, were found brutally slain inside 729 Maryland St. on the morning of Jan. 31, 2009.

The suite was where Merrick and Baptiste lived together with their two children. On weekends, Merrick would take the kids up to her home reserve community, leaving Baptiste to his own devices.

The Crown alleges a dispute between Roulette and the two victims led to a violent and bloody confrontation.

Tukundum testified she, Merrick and a friend arrived at the West End multiplex hours before the men were killed and saw them and Roulette inside having a drinking party.

Baptiste and Henderson — whom she only knew by his gang name, "Blinky" — were drinking but Roulette was not, she said. He sat quietly talking, she said.

Soon after, all six went to a rowdy party at a downtown hotel suite where cocaine was being consumed and possibly young female sex-trade workers were in attendance.

The atmosphere of the party was sinister, as many of the men there were acting "gangster tough," said Tukundum. "I didn't feel safe," she said.

Roulette, however, was chatting on his cellphone. "He wasn't drinking … he didn't have a drink," she said.

She, Merrick and the friend departed the party, leaving the men behind. Merrick received a phone call from Baptiste shortly after but she couldn't say what the two talked about.

They returned to 729 Maryland to allow Merrick to gather up some remaining beer so Baptiste couldn't get at it, she said.

They then drove back to the reserve, she said. It was now about 4 a.m.

The homicides weren't discovered until around 10 a.m.

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