Kelly Egan: The murderer as victim in Borutski's upside down world
Basil Borutski as the fourth victim, silently simmering in the glass prisoner box.
Of all the disturbing narratives that emerged at his seven-week trial, this was the most incredulous, in a jaw-dropping way — these terrible murders had somehow happened to HIM, a man without "a bad bone in my body."
It’s hard to imagine how a man who admitted killing three women in cold blood could actually make things worse for survivors, but he found a way. After a voluntary confession the day after the killings in 2015, what kind of diabolical character would insist — two years later — on this show-court proceeding, then refuse to engage a lawyer, decline to mount a defence and finally refuse to say a word to the jury?
Honestly, the trial struggled to make sense. His yawning in the docket Friday, the refusal to stand up, didn't help.
He insisted on dragging the civilians of the jury out of their daily routines (and subjecting them to nightmarish description of guns, terror and strangulation), took up valuable court time, forced 45 witnesses to testify and added to the harrowing experience of family members and friends, to arrive at a conclusion that was pre-determined.
Tellingly, the only time Borutski spoke to the court — when the jury was out — was to fire accusations at the judge, questioning whether he had been afforded a fair trial. Why, your Honour, he said to Justice Robert Maranger on Wednesday, I was not even given a pencil and paper!
“And I’m supposed to be able to represent myself?" he huffed, eventually accusing the judge of outright lying.
“You said you were going to go over my options of speaking as a witness in front of the jury … have I missed that?”
(It hardly needs to be said, but Borutski was offered repeated opportunities to defend himself, cross-examine witnesses and address the court. He had more free legal help than an average person ever gets.)
But this is the pattern with the man. Oh, the wrongs he has suffered. “They were guilty,” he said during his five-hour interview with OPP investigators. “I was innocent.”
The chip on his shoulder is so large, it’s turned his moral compass upside down. Sure he had killed them, he admitted, but it wasn’t murder, it was some twisted form of justice, guided by God and the Bible in his pocket.
His statement to police the day after the killings is a thing to behold. The first thing he did was complain of being "starved all day" and left without much water. “All the (police) officers should be treating people like people.” This from a man with barely dried blood on his hands.
Shortly after his arrest in 2015, neighbours began to speak of the 27 signs he had posted on his Round Lake property, warning certain people — pretty much half the human race — to stay away.
He’d been so wronged, after all — by his ex-wife, the police, members of his own family, old girlfriends. It was always someone else’s doing.
“I am a caring loving human being,” he wrote in a letter received by his probation officer three days after the killings. “I hate violence,” he added, before concluding: “I have been judged wrongly. Now ye will be judged by me.”
Borutski is the kind of villain who finds cracks — or gaping holes — in the system designed to protect women, a particularly patchy system in a rural area. Rehabilitation? No, couldn’t possibly be for him.
He refused to sign a probation order after completing a 19-month sentence for assaulting one of the women he eventually killed. Why? Well, it was all so unfair to him.
Days after the killing spree, I visited the last place Borutski lived, a public housing project in Palmer Rapids, deep in the heart of Renfrew County. And you know what? He had allies there.
Neighbour Shirl Roesler talked about how helpful Borutski had been to her, with unannounced repairs to her car, for instance, in exchange for borrowing the vehicle.
“That’s not the man I knew,” she said once news of the arrest had sunk in. “He was an angry man. He was hurt,” adding that he told stories of betrayal by his former partners.
Of course he did. He was the victim.
In early 2013, Borutski was supposed to begin a 12-week program dealing with partner abuse and domestic violence. It was part of his probation. How many sessions did he attend? None. Of course not, he’s not the problem.
"I am not guilty," Borutski wrote to his probation officer. “I have been abused and tortured. I am the victim.”
No you’re not, Basil. Three times No on Friday, a lifetime of Nos beginning tomorrow.
To contact Kelly Egan, please call 613-726-5896 or email firstname.lastname@example.org