OTTAWA — The man accused of killing three women in a revenge-fuelled rampage in the Ottawa Valley two years ago made an unexpected move Thursday during his first-degree murder trial: he actually took part.
Basil Borutski, who turned 60 this week, is facing three charges of first-degree murder for the September 2015 deaths of Carol Culleton, 66, Anastasia Kuzyk, 36, and Nathalie Warmerdam, 48. He had relationships with all three women, and spent time in jail twice after both Warmerdam and Kuzyk accused him of assault and uttering threats.
In a videotaped confession played earlier in the trial, Borutski told a provincial police officer the day after the deaths that he killed the women because they lied. He also went on lengthy rants about how he had been railroaded by police who were out to get him.
Borutski is representing himself in the trial, but until this week has refused to say a word, acknowledge the judge or ask any questions of any witnesses. Mostly he sits perfectly still in the prisoner's box, often with his eyes closed.
On Wednesday, however, the accused leaned forward and rapped loudly on the glass of the prisoner's box. Once given a pencil, he began taking notes. Then on Thursday, when Kuzyk's sister Eva described hearing screaming from the kitchen, Borutski again rapped on the glass and held several pieces of paper up against it.
The jury was ushered out of the courtroom while the judge and lawyers figured out what to do. When the trial resumed, lawyer Patrick McCann used Borutski's notes to ask questions of Eva Kuzyk.
McCann was appointed by the court for the defence only to ask questions of certain witnesses who said they would not feel comfortable being questioned by Borutski directly. He only asks questions on the direction of Borutski.
The questions McCann posed focused on where Eva Kuzyk was in the house, how she behaved, and when she first saw the gun in the hands of the man she said attacked her sister.
Kuzyk testified she was upstairs in "Stasia's house" when she heard her sister scream and went running down to find out what was going on. That, she said, is when she saw her sister on the floor in the kitchen and Borutski near the kitchen door.
She said Borutski appeared surprised to see her, and that he fled the home "hunched over" after seeing her. She yelled at him to go away, and then ran to the front door to see if he'd left but then saw him coming back with a gun and fled herself. Moments later heard she heard the shot.
"I only had time to think we were going to die and then the gun went off," Kuzyk told McCann.
The jurors also heard the 911 call Eva Kuzyk made that morning as well as testimony from the road worker who assisted Eva that morning, and one of the police officers who was first on the scene. Borutski stopped taking notes after Kuzyk left the stand.
Maranger told the jury that the trial, initially expected to take until January, is moving "way quicker than anticipated" because of Borutski's lack of participation.
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Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press