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Seven women and five men jury chosen in Basil Borutski triple-murder trial

By Aedan Helmer, Postmedia Network

Sketch by Greg Banning:

The triple murder trial of Basil Borutski began in Ottawa Oct. 2. The trial is expected to continue into the New Year.

Sketch by Greg Banning: The triple murder trial of Basil Borutski began in Ottawa Oct. 2. The trial is expected to continue into the New Year.

A jury of seven women and five men will decide the legal fate of Basil Borutski as his triple murder trial is expected to formally begin Wednesday.

The panel of 12 jurors and two alternates was finalized in court Tuesday, with Borutski standing trial, accused in the killings of Anastasia Kuzyk, 36, Nathalie Warmerdam, 48, and Carol Culleton, 66.

All three women were killed within hours of each other in a Sept. 22, 2015 rampage in and around the Renfrew County community of Wilno.

After Ontario Justice Robert Maranger gives final instructions to the jurors Wednesday, the Crown is expected to make its opening statement, according to Renfrew County Crown attorney Jeffery Richardson and Lanark County Crown attorney Julie Scott. The Crown is also expected to call its first witness.

With the first evidence presented, Justice Maranger said, the trial will formally commence. Court has set aside 17 weeks for the jury trial.

Borutski, 59, has not named a lawyer and will defend himself on three counts of first-degree murder. As his own defence counsel, Borutski had the right to challenge and dismiss individual prospective jurors. He did not exercise that right.

Borutski has, so far, been unresponsive throughout proceedings, sitting in the prisoner’s box with his eyes wincing shut, wearing a baggy white T-shirt, his long grey hair and goatee unkempt.

He refused to acknowledge the court clerk when called upon, refused to stand when he was formally arraigned on the charges and made no reaction when Justice Maranger read details of the killings to prospective jurors.

Culleton was the first of the three victims to die in a violent spree that began late Sept. 21 or in the early hours of Sept. 22, 2015, Justice Maranger said.

Her assailant broke into her cottage at 670 Kamaniskeg Rd., near Combermere, where she was later found beaten and strangled to death.

Kuzyk was then shot to death with a 12-gauge shotgun at her home at 37 Szczipior Rd. in Wilno at 8:50 a.m.

Warmerdam was killed with a 12-gauge shotgun at her home at 594 Foymount Rd., near Cormac, at 9:20 a.m.

Borutski was arrested later that day and charged with three counts of first-degree murder. He has entered no plea, with court filing a plea of not guilty on his behalf.

The trial was moved from Pembroke to Ottawa.

Court appointed Ottawa lawyer James Foord as amicus curiae (friend of the court) to ensure Borutski’s right to a fair trial, and lawyer Patrick McCann was appointed in the event witnesses are uncomfortable undergoing cross-examination from the accused.

The Crown read a list of more than 100 names of potential witnesses, including family members of the victims, community members, police and forensic experts.

The first of those witnesses will be called to testify Wednesday.

Justice Maranger implored the jurors to “keep an open mind” about the case, and to avoid any kind of research on the details, whether from media reports, social media or from speaking with others.