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Borutski trial moving to Ottawa, judge rules

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

Basil Borutski
Court sketch by Greg Banning/Postmedia Network

Basil Borutski Court sketch by Greg Banning/Postmedia Network

 

The first-degree murder trial of the man charged in the deaths of three Renfrew County women has been moved to Ottawa.

Basil Borutski, who was charged after police found the bodies of three women in the Wilno-Barry's Bay area in 2015, will stand trial beginning on Sept. 18. The trial, anticipated to hear from 125 witnesses, is scheduled to take four months.

Justice James McNamara, regional senior judge for Ontario’s East Region, released his decision earlier this week. Crown attorney Jeff Richardson, who confirmed Tuesday that the change of venue motion had been granted, said he will continue to prosecute the case although the trial will be moved to Ottawa's Elgin Street courthouse.

Borutski, who remains in custody at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre, has not hired defence counsel. Ottawa-based lawyer James Foord has been appointed as an amicus curiae to act as an intermediary between the accused and the judge ensuring all relevant evidence and arguments are properly presented to the court. Under Section 486 of the Criminal Code, Ottawa-based lawyer Patrick McCann has also been appointed as counsel to conduct the cross-examination of some witnesses during the trial, powers that an amicus curiae wouldn’t have.

On Sept. 22, 2015, the bodies of 36-year-old Anastasia Kuzyk and 48-year-old Nathalie Warmerdam were found slain in their homes in Wilno and Bonnechere Valley. Carol Culleton, 66, was found murdered in her cottage near Barry's Bay.

On Feb. 2, Justice McNamara heard submissions from the Crown and Foord during a hearing concerning changing the venue in Pembroke. The reasons for his decision are covered by a court-ordered publication ban. A judicial pre-trial in the case continues on March 20.

SChase@postmedia.com