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Screaming match recalled

Witness testifies about argument between accused and victim

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 9/2/2018 (280 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A Winnipeg man who says he “unfortunately” knew Raymond Cormier in the summer of 2014 told court about a heated argument Cormier had with 15-year-old Tina Fontaine, and about a callous comment the accused killer made after she died.

Tyrell Morrison, 30, denied a suggestion from the accused killer’s defence team that he could have hurt Tina, and he told court about Cormier’s reaction to her death.

Morrison testified he and his girlfriend discussed Tina’s death with Cormier after he saw a photo of the 15-year-old on Facebook following news that her body had been discovered in the Red River on Aug. 17, 2014.

“I was shocked about it,” Morrison said.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 9/2/2018 (280 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A Winnipeg man who says he "unfortunately" knew Raymond Cormier in the summer of 2014 told court about a heated argument Cormier had with 15-year-old Tina Fontaine, and about a callous comment the accused killer made after she died.

Tyrell Morrison, 30, denied a suggestion from the accused killer’s defence team that he could have hurt Tina, and he told court about Cormier’s reaction to her death.

Facebook</p><p>Tina Fontaine</p></p>

Facebook

Tina Fontaine

Morrison testified he and his girlfriend discussed Tina’s death with Cormier after he saw a photo of the 15-year-old on Facebook following news that her body had been discovered in the Red River on Aug. 17, 2014.

"I was shocked about it," Morrison said.

"We mentioned it to him, and told him how old she was, and his reaction was, ‘Oh, I guess that’s why she didn’t put out,’" he said.

Cormier, 56, has pleaded not guilty to killing Tina, and his defence team suggested Friday that Morrison could have hurt the teen — something he denied.

"I put it to you that you had equal opportunity to assault and/or harm Tina Fontaine," defence lawyer Tony Kavanagh said.

"No," Morrison said, mumbling.

Morrison had met Cormier earlier that summer through Ernie DeWolfe, someone Cormier would later tell police he’d met in prison. On Friday, the 10th day of Cormier’s second-degree murder trial, Morrison told the jury about the last time he saw the girl he later found out was Tina, and said he was present during a screaming argument she had with Cormier over her missing bike and a stolen pickup truck.

Morrison said he met Tina twice, after Cormier — whom he knew as Frenchie — took the teen to the home Morrison shared with Sarah Holland on Carmen Avenue in Elmwood. Tina didn’t give her real name and she told them she was 18.

"Did she look 18?" Crown prosecutor James Ross asked.

"Not really, no," Morrison said.

When he was cross-examined by Cormier’s lawyer, Morrison looked at the statement he gave to police and admitted he’d told them Cormier seemed shocked when they talked about Tina’s homicide, and that Cormier had said "holy s—-" before he made the crude comment about her.

Morrison’s memory was "hazy" on many details when he testified Friday. He said the first time he met Tina, she was at his house with her boyfriend and Cormier. He said he saw Tina smoke marijuana and watched Cormier give her crack cocaine, which she smoked in a pipe.

"She said it was better than her mom’s," Morrison said. Holland, his then-girlfriend, had testified Tina wasn’t given any drugs that night.

The next, and last, time he saw Tina, Morrison said she showed up at the house crying, and she’d had her bike with her. While he and Holland were upstairs, Tina cleaned their house, he said, and he made her lunch to thank her. Morrison said at one point, he went downstairs to see Cormier’s head in Tina’s lap, and that Cormier jumped up quickly when he noticed Morrison.

Cormier left and returned with a truck full of tools. Morrison said he figured the truck and the tools were stolen — Cormier told him he took it when the keys were left inside — but knew they could sell them to buy drugs.

He said he helped Cormier unload the tools from the truck into the house, and back again after Holland got upset about it.

He said he told Tina to throw the truck key away from the house because it was stolen, and that Cormier got upset and wanted the key back. They argued about the truck and about Tina’s bike, which had been reduced to two wheels. The bicycle frame was gone, and Morrison said somebody sold it.

"I think it was Frenchie," he said.

Tina was screaming at Cormier as she walked away from the house that night, Morrison said.

Holland has testified she heard Tina threaten to call the police on Cormier, and said she remembered the date as Aug. 6, 2014.

Just after 10 p.m. that night, Tina did call 911 to report that her friend "Sebastian" had stolen a blue truck earlier that day. Cormier admitted to police that he told people his name was Sebastian, even though it wasn’t.

Kavanagh questioned Morrison about why he initially didn’t tell police he had unloaded the stolen goods from the back of the truck.

He was first interviewed in October 2014, but didn’t share that detail until March 2015, when homicide investigators told him they found his DNA in the back of the truck.

"I was worried about the stolen property," Morrison said. "I was honest as much as I could be from what I remember."

Morrison admitted under cross-examination that he didn’t like Cormier — "I did and I didn’t" — and wanted him around his house "not so frequently."

He admitted Cormier had physically forced him from his own house because he believed Morrison was assaulting Holland.

He was arrested for assault and sexual assault a few days after Tina’s body was discovered. Between the time he last saw Tina and when he learned she died, Morrison said Cormier continued to "chill" at the house.

Despite his criminal record and other pending charges, Morrison testified he wasn’t getting a deal from the Crown in exchange for his testimony.

Cormier’s second-degree murder trial continues in Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench next week.

katie.may@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @thatkatiemay

Katie May

Katie May
Justice reporter

Katie May reports on courts, crime and justice for the Free Press.

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History

Updated on Friday, February 9, 2018 at 2:42 PM CST: Updates headline

2:56 PM: removes obscenity

7:46 PM: corrects trial date

February 10, 2018 at 7:49 AM: Edited

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