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This article was published 12/11/2015 (1565 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A man has been found guilty of killing a transgender sex worker and dumping her body at a highway rest stop near Portage la Prairie.
Theodore Herntier closed his eyes and dropped his head Thursday night as the six-woman, six-man Manitoba Court of queen’s Bench jury delivered its verdict. The jury had deliberated for about eight hours at the end of an almost four-week trial.
After reaching the verdict, 10 members of the jury made no parole recommendation, while two members said he should not be allowed to get parole for 15 years.
The sentence for second-degree murder is life imprisonment with no chance of parole for between 10 and 20 years.
Justice Rick Saull said he will sentence Herntier at a later date.
Divas Boulanger, 28, was killed in September 2004.
Boulanger, who was born David Boulanger, was last seen getting into a white truck at Sutherland Avenue and Main Street. The vehicle was similar to one Herntier was driving at the time.
An autopsy found Boulanger had been beaten and had suffered at least nine blows to the head.
Herntier had pleaded not guilty.
Crown and defence lawyers wrapped up the month-long case on Tuesday with vastly different arguments. Prosecutor Brian Bell told jurors Tuesday should have no trouble "safely and rationally" concluding Herntier is guilty as charged. He noted how the victim’s blood was found inside a business on Wall Street owned by Herntier. He reminded them of an alleged confession the accused made to a business associate. And he said there is plenty of other evidence, circumstantial though it may be, that pointed to his guilt.
"You will come to one conclusion and one conclusion only," Bell urged in summing up his case in about 20 minutes.
Defence lawyer Martin Glazer spent more than two hours trying to shred the Crown’s case.
"There is more evidence of innocence in this case than any evidence of guilt," Glazer told jurors Tuesday. "Ted is a victim of wrongful arrest and false accusation. All of us want to solve a homicide. But we can’t do that by victimizing this innocent man."
Glazer took aim at one of the key Crown witnesses who claimed Hernter admitted to killing Boulanger. The man — whose name isn’t being published at the request of the Crown citing ongoing legal concerns — shared business space at the time with the accused.
Police interviewed the man in the spring of 2005, telling him they were investigating Herntier as a possible suspect in a homicide. The man admitted he didn’t initially tell police about Herntier’s confession — a move questioned by Glazer.
"You shouldn’t take him seriously," Glazer said Tuesday. He told jurors the man’s "cock and bull" story may have been an attempt to distract police from viewing him as a potential suspect in the killing.
Police didn’t arrest Herntier until 2010. Another intriguing piece of evidence was the fact he was in the vicinity of where Boulanger’s body was eventually found, near Portage la Prairie, around the time of the body dump.
But Herntier told jurors last week the only reason he stopped was because of a flat tire. He denied any involvement in the homicide.
"I never did that. I’m not a violent person," he said.
Herntier said he was driving auto parts to Swan River when he had a blowout on the Trans-Canada Highway, just past a rest stop beside the Assiniboine River. Herntier denied there was a body in the back of his truck at the time.
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.
Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015 at 9:22 PM CST: Verdict update
9:30 PM: Changes headline
9:34 PM: Adds background detail
9:36 PM: Changes to copy