Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ex-soldier jailed in gay killing

Victim strangled in own duplex after night out drinking at bar

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BRANDON -- A former CFB Shilo soldier who claimed he was defending himself against a sexual assault was sentenced to five years in prison Thursday in the death of a 21-year-old gay man.

Duane Lacquette, known as Jon-Jon to his family, was found Jan. 16, 2010 lying naked in his basement following a night of drinking. Lacquette was the victim of a UFC-style choke hold that strangled him.

Jason John Ouimet, a former amateur boxer and a gunner at CFB Shilo, was originally charged with murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter in late April as part of a plea deal. Ouimet claimed he passed out in Lacquette's basement and awoke to find a naked Lacquette performing oral sex on him.

Crown attorney Jim Ross said Ouimet, 31, was so infuriated by the unwanted sexual touching he killed Lacquette when he could have used his superior size and fighting skills to simply subdue him.

The case was shrouded in mystery and rumour until last month, when a publication ban on some pretrial testimony was lifted.

The testimony raised questions about whether Lacquette's death was the result of self-defence, a consensual encounter gone wrong or gay panic borne of homophobia.

Family and friends have said all along they do not believe Lacquette would sexually assault anyone, behave in an aggressive manner or put himself at risk of violence. He was relatively open among his friends about his sexuality, though less so with his family, who said Thursday they have been shattered by his death.

"He was not a person with anger in his heart," said Lacquette's uncle, Eugene, who read a victim-impact statement penned by Lacquette's deaf father, Dwayne.

"He carried life, humour and love with him and shared that with everyone he met."

Many members of Lacquette's large Métis family sobbed and passed around a box of tissues as victim-impact statements were read Thursday.

His grandmother was so overcome with emotion following the hearing she had to be helped down the courthouse steps.

On the evening of Jan. 15, 2010, Lacquette was among a big group of friends who went drinking at a Brandon bar.

Later, Ouimet, Lacquette and others finished the night at Lacquette's duplex. It was there he propositioned Ouimet, something the defence suggested during the pretrial hearing Lacquette occasionally did in hopes a seemingly straight man might be interested in hooking up.

Ouimet insisted to police he wasn't angered by Lacquette's come-on. He told police he'd been propositioned before and it was "kinda disgusting" but easily dismissed.

Ouimet was more interested in one of Lacquette's many close female friends who was sleeping in the basement. Ouimet went down to the basement, where he passed out. The female friend went home.

Again during Thursday's sentencing, Ouimet's lawyer, Roberta Campbell, said Ouimet's violent reaction had nothing to do with Lacquette's sexual orientation and was instead an understandable reaction to being sexually assaulted.

"If I could go back and change everything, I would, but I can't," Ouimet told the Lacquette family in a brief statement. "I offer my deepest condolences to your entire family."

Ouimet was dismissed from the military last month. He was posted at CFB Shilo for only about a week before Lacquette's death.

Ouimet, originally from Kingston, Ont., will be transferred to a correctional facility there so he can be near his family.

maryagnes.welch@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 8, 2012 A3

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