Jury set to begin deliberations in Basil Borutski triple-murder trial
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 – Basil Borutski will wait at least one more day to learn his fate as his triple-murder trial adjourned Tuesday before the jury could begin deliberations.
Following Tuesday’s closing arguments, Justice Robert Maranger told the jury of six women and six men he wants their “minds to be fresh” when they return Wednesday.
It is expected Maranger will read the charge to the jury, instructing them on the law they must consider, weighed with the evidence they’ve heard in court, to determine whether Borutski is guilty on each or any of the three counts of first-degree murder he faces in the Sept. 22, 2015 killings of Carol Culleton, 66, Anastasia Kuzyk, 36, and Nathalie Warmerdam, 48.
Borutski, 60, again remained silent in the prisoner’s box Tuesday and did not respond when asked if he wished to make a closing argument, his final opportunity to address the jury.
Borutski did not hire a lawyer, entered no plea, and did not participate when called upon throughout the trial, where he is representing his own defence. He did not challenge or contest any of the Crown’s evidence and called no evidence or witnesses to testify in his own defence.
While Borutski may have said nothing in court, it was his own words -- spoken during a videotaped confession to police the morning after the killings -- that prosecutor Jeffery Richardson said provided ample evidence Borutski committed murder that day.
Borutski admitted to a police detective to carrying out the killings, and as heard in select clips of the five-hour interview replayed to the jury Tuesday, he attempted to justify his actions by citing his own interpretation of the Bible and the Ten Commandments.
Borutski attempts to rationalize “the difference between killing and murder” at several key points in the chronology, Richardson said, pointing to conversations with his neighbours on the eve of the killings, text messages to his brother in the hours after the killings, and again the following day in his statement to police.
“By Mr. Borutski’s definition, murder is killing something innocent. (The victims) lied against him. Because they lied they are not innocent,” Richardson summarized.
He then told the jury to dismiss Borutski’s logic, saying, “How silly this whole notion is.”
Richardson said Borutski’s motivation for killing Culleton involved no divine intervention, but was instead a “callous, premeditated act of revenge.”
“She took advantage of his time, his money and his generosity and then rejected him for someone else,” Richardson said.
Court earlier heard Borutski had been trying to rekindle an old romance with Culleton, who rejected his advances and broke off their casual relationship days before the killings.
To reach a guilty verdict on all three counts of first-degree murder, Maranger said, the jury must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Borutski not only killed three women intentionally, but that he did so after planning and deliberation.
Richardson said there were also elements of criminal harassment – a secondary path to a first-degree conviction – in the days and weeks leading to the killing of Culleton. She was the first of the victims killed that day, and the Crown produced a lengthy text message exchange in the weeks leading to the killings.
Culleton was attempting to distance herself from Borutski over the text exchange, and finally breaks off the relationship on Sept. 20, telling him she’s back together with an old flame and pleading with him to “Please stop” as Borutski sends a torrent of long-winded texts.
He signs off with what Richardson called a “dire” warning: “I will endure the betrayal of yet another false friend… Karma will take over.”
Richardson said Borutski also referred to Warmerdam and Kuzyk as “false friends.”
At Tuesday’s closing arguments, after Borutski waived his right to make a statement, court-appointed amicus James Foord argued on his behalf that the jury should instead consider charges of second-degree murder.
Foord asked the jury to consider Borutski’s state of mind, saying at the time he hadn’t slept or eaten in days, and that he had recently been referred to a mental health crisis worker.
Borutski claimed his “head was going to explode,” Foord said, and neighbours reported Borutski was “not being himself” in the days leading to the killings.
“Something is not right with Mr. Borutski, that’s obvious,” Foord said.
Borutski was “unravelling” from heartbreak and grief, and Foord told the jury they must question whether he had “the requisite mental state for planning and deliberation. That is the issue.”
Maranger said it will likely take about two hours for him to read the jury charge Wednesday morning, after which deliberations are expected to begin.