Hours before vicious killing recounted at first-degree murder trial

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HOURS before they were viciously slain in a West End apartment, Jessie Henderson and Dennis Baptiste partied and drank together -- both there and at a well-attended party inside a "penthouse" theme suite at a downtown hotel.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/09/2013 (3300 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

HOURS before they were viciously slain in a West End apartment, Jessie Henderson and Dennis Baptiste partied and drank together — both there and at a well-attended party inside a “penthouse” theme suite at a downtown hotel.

But their alleged killer,who was with the young men at both locations, appeared sober and calm throughout, a Winnipeg jury heard Wednesday.

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

Tukundum is the sister of Dennis Baptise’s common-law wife, Krystal Merrick.

Baptiste and Henderson, both 23, were found brutally killed inside 729 Maryland St. on the morning of Jan. 31, 2009, mere hours after Tukundum and Merrick last saw them alive and well at the McDermot Avenue hotel. They were members of the Mad Cowz street gang.

The Maryland apartment was where Merrick and Baptiste lived with their two young children. On weekends, Merrick would take the kids up to her family’s reserve community, leaving Baptiste in the city.

The Crown alleges a dispute between the victims and Roulette, who went by the gang monikers “Biggs” or “Junior,” led to a violent and fatal confrontation.

Tukundum and Merrick separately testified they arrived at the West End multiplex hours before the men were killed and saw them and Roulette inside. They had come to the city because Merrick was concerned about Baptiste hosting a drinking party.

Baptiste and Henderson — whom Tukundum only knew by his gang name, “Blinky” — were drinking but Roulette was not, she said. He sat quietly talking with a friend who had come in with the women from the First Nation, she testified.

Soon after, all six went to a party at a downtown hotel suite where cocaine was being consumed and young female sex-trade workers were in attendance. It was a contact of Henderson’s — a person named “Chippy” –who invited them, said Merrick.

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. The women ultimately left, with Baptiste rebuffing Merrick’s efforts to get him to leave with her.

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