Toxicologist testifies about girl whose body was dumped in Winnipeg river

By The Canadian Press
January 30, 2018 - 4:30pm

WINNIPEG — A 15-year-old girl had drugs and alcohol in her system when she was killed and thrown into the Red River in Winnipeg, a toxicologist testified at a murder trial Tuesday.

Christopher Keddy, who works at the RCMP national forensics lab, told court tests showed Tina Fontaine had a level of alcohol slightly above the legal limit for driving.

Keddy also said there was a relatively high level of THC — the active ingredient in marijuana — at four nanograms per millilitre.

"Yes, it was arguably quite high," Keddy told the trial of Raymond Cormier, 55, who has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.

He added that the amounts might have registered artificially high because of decomposition and because the tests were done on chest-cavity fluid instead of blood. Drug and alcohol tests are best done on blood samples from living persons, he said.

Tina was killed in August 2014 after she ran away from a hotel where she was being housed by Child and Family Services. She became a sexually exploited youth in the inner city.

The discovery of her small body, wrapped in a duvet cover and weighed down by rocks, renewed calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.

The Crown's theory is that Cormier killed the girl because he had developed a sexual interest in her and found out she was underage, and because he feared she would report him to police for possessing a stolen truck.

Under questioning by Crown attorney James Ross, Keddy testified the toxicology results showed no clear sign of harder drugs, such as methamphetamines and cocaine.

There was also no indication of gabapentin, Keddy said. The Crown said Tina had once told a hospital worker she had used the drug, which is prescribed to treat epilepsy but also produces a mild euphoria when used recreationally.

Keddy said the test the RCMP lab ran might not detect low levels of gabapentin.

Under cross-examination, defence lawyer Andrew Synyshyn suggested to Keddy that he could not rule out the possibility that gabapentin was in Fontaine's system at a potentially lethal level in combination with other drugs.

"That is correct. I cannot," Keddy replied.

Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press

Suncor phasing in 150 autonomous haul trucks, job cuts expected by 2019