Jury chosen for trial of man accused in killing of Tina Fontaine

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How Tina Fontaine died remains a mystery following Raymond Cormier's acquittal

How Tina Fontaine died remains a mystery following Raymond Cormier's acquittal

Ten women and four men have been chosen to hear the lengthy trial for the man accused of killing Tina Fontaine, a 15-year-old Indigenous girl whose body was pulled from a Winnipeg river in 2014. 

The halls of the courthouse in Winnipeg were crowded Thursday morning as 130 people made their way to a large courtroom for the start of jury selection. 

Candidates went before defence lawyers, Crown prosecutors and Court of Queen's Bench Justice Vic Toews to be chosen for three upcoming trials, including Raymond Cormier's, which begins on Monday and is scheduled to run for five weeks. 

Tina Fontaine's body was found wrapped in a duvet cover in the river near the Alexander Docks in central Winnipeg on Aug. 17, 2014, eight days after she was reported missing. 

Cormier was charged with second-degree murder in December 2015, following an elaborate Mr. Big sting.

Cormier, who is originally from New Brunswick but lived in Winnipeg for several years, was arrested in the Vancouver area. There was no preliminary hearing and Cormier has maintained his innocence. 

Fontaine's death made an impact across the country and pushed conversations around the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women. 

On Thursday, the large pool of jurors sat in a separate room from where Cormier's lawyer, Anthony Kavanagh, and the Crown attorneys waited for them with the judge. 

The potential jurors were read the name of the accused, the list of around 50 potential witnesses in the trial and the names of the lawyers and judges involved. 

They were told if they had any relationship with anyone involved in the trial they would be excused. They were also told that if they'd already formed an opinion on Cormier, they'd have to be excused. 

"This is a civic duty," Toews told the potential jurors.

Pools of up to 18 potential jurors were taken into the room where the lawyers and Toews sat. If they had an issue with serving as a juror, they were told to tell the judge. 

One person was excused because of a family member who used to be a neighbour of Tina Fontaine. Another juror was excused because he said he'd heard the story and had already made up his mind about the accused. 

A father of two young girls looked at Toews and said he didn't think he could be objective about the case. He was also excused. 

Cormier in the room

One woman told Toews that she had "read many articles about Cormier," but when he asked if she had made up her mind, she responded, "No." She became a juror. 

The vast majority of potential jurors did not mention any concern about staying objective during the trial.

The potential jurors had to look at Cormier, who was sitting in the room wearing a grey sweatshirt with black sleeves. His hair was cut short and his face was clean-shaven as he leaned back in a separate seating area while the jurors streamed in. 

The defence and the Crown were each allowed to dismiss up to 12 potential jurors without having to give a reason.

Other jurors were dismissed because of medical conditions, such as being hard of hearing, or because their English-language skills were called into question. 

After more than an hour, eight women and four men were chosen as the jury. Two other women were chosen as alternate jurors in case there is an issue and a juror cannot finish the trial. 

The trial will start on Monday morning and is scheduled to continue until the first week of March. Toews told jurors if they don't get through all of the evidence and testimony, it could go longer.