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Accused in death of Winnipeg teenage girl not guilty of murder

26 February 2018

The three-block-long march in support of Tina Fontaine's family began Friday in front of the courthouse and wound its way to the spot at the Red River where the teen's body was found in August 2014. No justice. No peace.

"I drew the line and that's why she got killed", he said.

She was in the care of social services and was staying at a Winnipeg hotel hotel when she disappeared. "I just presumed that he talked to her and ... sorted it out". Although her great-aunt, Thelma Favel, did all she could to give Tina a positive environment and a good home in Sagkeeng, the events of Tina's life brought her to the city with a broken heart due to her father's death and a naïveté about the sometimes harsh streets of Winnipeg. The Crown's case against Cormier, who had known Fontaine for a period time of time before she was found dead, was largely circumstantial.

Anishinaabe elder Chickadee Richard said Indigenous youth must be protected.

"Mr. Cormier has indicated that he's guilty of not protecting her", Kavanagh said, adding "threadbare" evidence doesn't prove Cormier's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. "There's monsters out there hurting our babies and I wonder when is this going to stop".

She and her boyfriend met the much-older Cormier in the summer of 2014.

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"He should have been charged. for at least rape and exploitation", said Marilyn Courchene, a Sagkeeng councillor. Cormier was recorded telling multiple people he was attracted to Tina and had sex with her. Cormier also said he would bet that Tina was killed because "I found out she was 15 years old".

Cormier's defense lawyers, Tony Kavanagh and Andrew Synyshyn challenged recorded evidence and argued the Crown's case was built on "inferences made from recordings that are hard to hear". "Tina I know is here beside me right now and is looking upon you guys and is appreciating everything you are doing", Favel said.

The jury deliberated for 11 hours before coming to its decision.

"There were significant holes in the case that the Crown simply wasn't able to close".

He said it could have saved lawyers a lot of trouble if Cormier had had a preliminary hearing to determine whether there was enough evidence to proceed. Tina's mother, who had not been part of her life, re-emerged and Tina started going to Winnipeg to visit her.

Newman said he's not surprised at the outrage the case has stirred.

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"All of us should be ashamed". We need to do better.

"We're not against the police, we're not against the justice system, we're not against CFS, but at the same time, we want to walk in solidarity with them, we want our voices heard", he said. Holland testified that she heard Tina tell Cormier she was going to call the cops.

Cormier's lawyer argued the jury must acquit his client because there was no cause of death.

"But now it's nearly like I'm tempted to tell the class. except when an Aboriginal person's a victim, and then apparently you don't have anything to worry about'".

There were gasps from Tina's family and their supporters as the verdict was read.

Daphne Penrose, Manitoba's children's advocate, says more services need to be made available for youth struggling with addictions and trauma. Murray Sinclair, Manitoba's first aboriginal judge. "Because these past two weeks have laid it bare that Indigenous Peoples never get justice in this country".

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Accused in death of Winnipeg teenage girl not guilty of murder