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Basil Borutski makes brief court appearance via video link in Pembroke court

By Tina Peplinskie, OBSERVER MULTIMEDIA JOURNALIST

Basil Borutski
Court sketch by Greg Banning/Postmedia Network

Basil Borutski Court sketch by Greg Banning/Postmedia Network

Despite responding 'no' when instructed to pick up the phone to speak with his court-appointed counsel, Basil Borutski did in fact speak with Biagio Del Greco Monday afternoon.

Borutski appeared briefly in Pembroke court via video link from the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre, wearing an orange jumpsuit and staring intently at the camera for the most part. After speaking privately with Borutski, Del Greco, who was representing Legal Aid Ontario and serving as duty counsel, requested an adjournment until Dec. 7.

Borutski, 57, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of three Ottawa Valley women on Sept. 23.

The bodies of 36-year-old Anastasia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmerdam, 48, were found in their homes in Wilno and Bonnechere Valley.

Carol Culleton, a 66-year-old retired public servant, was found dead in her cottage near Combermere. It is alleged Culleton was Borutski’s first victim. A five-hour manhunt across the Ottawa Valley and beyond led to Borutski's arrest of near Kinburn.

The hope is that the adjournment will allow Borutski to secure a lawyer and also provide the Crown time to prepare disclosure in the case.

At this point, Borutski “has yet to find someone prepared to come on the record” according to Del Greco, who explained he is helping the man facing three counts of first degree murder temporarily.

By the next court date, if Borutski has not made attempts to find a lawyer, Del Greco said based on his experiences, he would expect the court and the Crown attorney to ask for further explanation as to why he hasn't found a lawyer, he explained to media outside the Pembroke courtroom.

“All parties are interested in seeing things move along, so the court could intervene to assist,” the Ottawa-based lawyer added.

During his brief submission, Crown attorney Jeff Richardson asked to have one name removed from a non-communication order, which at one point included more than 50 names Borutski was not to contact, and he also altered the spelling of a second name on the list.

Outside the Pembroke courthouse Monday afternoon, five women gathered in quiet protest to provide messages of solidarity and support, according to JoAnne Brooks, director for the Women's Sexual Assault Centre of Renfrew County.

“We are here for the families that had Anastasia, Nathalie and Carol taken from them,” she said.

She added that one of the signs they were holding contained the number for the support hotline.

“We know women live with the threat of violence so we want to make sure they have the 24-hour number so they can reach out if they would like to talk,” Brooks said.

The women plan to attend the courthouse each time Borutski appears.

“We have a very dedicated and committed group,” she said.

tina.peplinskie@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @TPeplinskie