December 9, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
A Winnipeg jury was asked to "be realistic" Wednesday when pondering testimony given by two criminally entrenched witnesses — evidence that forms a crucial part of the Crown’s murder case against a man accused in the brutal slayings of two young city men.
Closing arguments were heard Wednesday in the first-degree murder trial of Kenneth Toby Roulette. Roulette, 28, has pleaded not guilty of beating and stabbing Mad Cowz gang members Jessie Henderson and Dennis Baptiste, each 23, inside an apartment at 729 Maryland St. on Jan. 31, 2009.
Crown attorney Keith Eyrikson spent more than an hour detailing the evidence the Crown called over the last two and a half weeks for the six men and six women who will decide Roulette’s fate. He faces a life sentence without a chance at parole for 25 years if convicted.
Henderson and Baptiste were stabbed and beaten inside the apartment where Baptiste lived with his common-law wife. Both men were heavily intoxicated when they died and possibly unable to fend off an attack. Eyrikson said they were likely "easy targets."
"Whatever they were, whomever they were, nobody deserves to die like that," Eyrikson said. "What this case comes down to is some powerful pieces of evidence you have at your disposal."
Eyrikson spent a considerable time discussing how two key witnesses independently provided testimony of Roulette separately disclosing intimate details about the killings.
Yes, Philip Asham and Russell Glow both had criminal histories and wanted benefits for testifying but they still told the truth about what they knew, Eyrikson said.
Glow testified Roulette admitted he killed the two men for cash as part of a contract-killing business he was in. "(Glow) has inside information on the killings directly from Mr. Roulette," the prosecutor said.
Glow, who died earlier this year, testified at a preliminary inquiry and said a blood-stained Roulette came to his suite shortly after the homicides, seeking his help to clean himself up and then fetch electronics from the nearby crime scene.
Glow said he initially agreed to help, but then backed off after Roulette took him to Baptiste’s lifeless body lying in a pool of blood at the entrance to 729 Maryland, saying there was another body upstairs.
A blood trail leading from the crime scene down a back lane in the direction of Glow’s home is "the forensic equivalent of a trial of bread crumbs from Mr. Roulette’s crime to Mr. Glow’s house," Eyrikson alleged. "He needed help, and he needed it quickly."
Eyrikson did caution jurors to look outside the evidence of Asham and Glow for confirmation of what they told court.
Defence lawyer Greg Brodsky urged jurors to pay close attention to how they didn’t hear from certain people to explain the Crown’s evidence fully. Not long before the men were killed, Roulette was with them at a party and inside Baptiste’s home and there were no apparent issues or disputes between them, witnesses have said.
Brodsky attacked the use of Asham and Glow as Crown witnesses, saying their criminal pasts mean they simply can’t be relied on.
"When your case is built on lies, it’s like building a house on an inadequate foundation," said Brodsky.
"The Crown says the liar promised to tell the truth, so he must be telling the truth — do you believe that?" he asked. "Would you buy a car from Philip Asham? Would you buy a car from Russell Glow?" Brodsky asked.
Suspicions and the possibility of probable guilt don’t pass the criminal law’s demand of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, he said.
"If you have to guess, you’re not doing your job," he told the jurors.
Updated on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 8:20 PM CDT:
Updates with complete write-through.