Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Jury hears forensic evidence in gang member slayings

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DNA evidence and bloody footprints left in the snow near a Maryland Street multiplex are key components in the Crown's murder case against a man accused of brutally killing two city street gang associates following an early-morning argument.

Ken Roulette, 28, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the slayings of Dennis Baptiste and Jesse Henderson on Jan 31, 2009.

The 23-year-old Mad Cowz street gang associates were found stabbed and beaten inside a rooming house at 729 Maryland St. and pronounced dead in hospital.

Roulette's jury trial began this morning in the Court of Queen's Bench. His fate is now in the hands of six men and six women now judging the facts of the case. He is presumed innocent.

Roulette and the victims were friends and had been out socializing the morning of their deaths, Crown prosecutor Michael Desautels told the jury in his opening address.

The men returned to the Maryland Street suite and a violent dispute broke out which resulted in Henderson and Baptiste suffering fatal injuries, Desautels said.

The killer, allegedly Roulette, then tried to torch the suite by tossing paper on a lit stove and fleeing, jurors heard. The fire burned itself out. A knife with the blood of the two victims was seized by police from the apartment, said the Crown.

Desautels said two DNA experts will be called to explain forensic evidence seized from a jacket found in a garbage can near the apartment building as well as a spot of Baptiste's blood found in the suite which allegedly contained three of Roulette's hairs.

The first witness called to testify was forensic identification Sgt. Ralph Lucas. Through photos of the scene, Lucas described for jurors how Baptiste was found at the bottom of some stairs leading up to the apartment, and Henderson found in the suite.

The scene was bloody, with blood spatter and smears present in several different interior areas, Lucas's testimony shows.

He also described how a blood trail was discovered leading away from the scene.

Roulette, a beefy man with short black hair and glasses, remained emotionless during the proceedings. He wasn't arrested until more than a year after the killings, about a week after police issued a Canada-wide warrant in hopes of finding him.

The trial continues this afternoon.

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