Probation officer testifies Basil Borutski did not attend court-ordered domestic violence program
Sketch by Greg Banning: The triple murder trial of Basil Borutski began in Ottawa Oct. 2. The trial was expected to continue into the New Year, but wrapped up much quicker than initially anticipated. The judge will instruct the jury Wednesday.
OTTAWA - Three days after Basil Borutski was arrested and charged with carrying out a killing rampage through Renfrew County, a five-page handwritten letter was delivered to his probation officer.
Caroline Royer had started supervising Borutski in Pembroke as part of his court-ordered probation in December 2013, and with another court order in 2014, she continued as his probation officer until his arrest on Sept. 22, 2015.
The jury in Borutski’s triple-murder trial has already heard evidence of his criminal convictions related to his relationships with Anastasia Kuzyk, 36, and Nathalie Warmerdam, 48, whom Borutski shot and killed that September morning after beating and strangling Carol Culleton, 66, to death, according to the Crown’s case.
Royer testified Wednesday that one of the court conditions imposed on Borutski was to complete a 12-week partner abuse and domestic violence program following a referral at the beginning of his first probation period, which commenced Jan. 8, 2013.
Borutski, 60, “had not yet attended one session,” court heard.
On the witness stand, Royer recalled finding the letter sitting on her desk with the morning mail in her ministry office on Lake Street on Sept. 25, the Friday after the killings. It bore no postmark, and Royer could not explain how the letter was delivered, or where it was from, apart from the signature on the envelope’s back bearing the familiar name “B. Borutski.”
She opened the small brown envelope and read the letter aloud to two colleagues. Under the heading “My Entire Life,” the letter begins:
“I have been wrongfully accused of hurting assaulting women numerous times — that is not true. I am a caring loving human being. I hate violence!
“I have been labelled wrongly. All my attempts to change that in our court system were in vain … Judge not lest ye be judged. Now ye will be judged by me.”
The letter contains numerous passages, including Biblical references, complaints about his treatment by “the system,” and his definition of “success,” which have previously been entered as evidence, in a handwritten letter mailed to Carol Culleton, postmarked from Palmer Rapids on the eve of her death, and in a text-message exchange with the Culleton in the weeks leading to the killings.
A handwriting expert testified Wednesday that the handwriting in both letters matched sample handwriting seized from Borutski’s Palmer Rapids apartment.
“There were no fundamental differences” between the handwriting contained in the two letters and the handwriting known to be Borutski’s, testified Jacqueline Osmond, a forensic document examiner with the Centre for Forensic Science.
The author of the notes found in Borutski’s apartment “can be identified within the limits of practical certainty as having written the questioned handwriting" in the two letters, Osmond concluded in a report filed in March 2016 and entered into evidence Wednesday.
Osmond could not, however, draw the same conclusion with the handwriting samples she analyzed from about 20 signs left deliberately around the Culleton cottage property. Those handwritten messages, which contained various wishes for the “Happy Retirement” Culleton had just begun to enjoy, were scrawled in black marker. Osmond said the liquid ink bled into the porous material — pieces of particle board and scraps of lumber — and “in this case I just couldn’t determine (matching) features,” she testified.
Borutski’s court-appointed amicus curiae James Foord did not challenge the findings.
Borutski has remained silent throughout proceedings while representing himself on three counts of first-degree murder.
“I am not guilty,” Borutski wrote to his probation officer, who, he wrote, “seemed like a decent person,” and pleaded with her to “do what is right for me and my family — justice.
“I have been abused and tortured. I am the victim,” he wrote. “It never should of came to this!
“It is horrible to know that you’ve done nothing wrong ... and be condemned by the ones you love, by the police, by the courts, by society. There’s no use living, there is no justice ...
“I have been haunted by the system, actually hunted by the system — abused by the system. My own family believe I am an abusive person. I have nothing left, not even my dignity!
“I can’t take it any more — I’m getting out and I’m taking as many that have abused me as possible with me. JUSTICE.”
After an Ottawa Police Service tactical team arrested Borutski in a Kinburn field that afternoon, a forensic sweep turned up a 12-gauge pump action shotgun with a live round in the chamber and two more in the magazine. Police found a “very large machete-style knife” in the car he drove, found parked near a family hunt camp on the Ottawa city limits.
Court has already heard police feared there could be further potential victims that day — a Metcalfe Street address briefly came under police protection, and Ottawa police joined the OPP response in Kinburn, forming a guard around locked-down Stonecrest Elementary School when word came the suspect was headed to the area.
Borutski eventually surrendered peacefully in an adjoining field, with an OPP helicopter and OPS Cessna circling overhead.
Crown prosecutors Jeffery Richardson and Julie Scott have so far entered evidence from each of the three homicide scenes, and the scene of Borutski’s arrest, through the first five weeks of testimony.
The trial, originally scheduled to span 17 weeks, now adjourns until Nov. 14, with Justice Robert Maranger reassuring the jury of six women and six men “the case is moving along very rapidly.”
Maranger instructed the jury to avoid media coverage or research of the case during the break.