Closing statements expected today in Basil Borutski trial

Closing statements are expected today as the high-profile trial of Basil Borutski, accused of murdering three of his former partners, nears its end.
Basil Borutski, 60, sat silent an unresponsive in court on Tuesday, as he has throughout his trial. (Sketch by Laurie Foster-MacLeod)

Closing statements are expected today as the high-profile trial of Basil Borutski, accused of murdering three of his former partners, nears its end.

Crown attorney Jeffery Richardson will address the six women and six men of the jury first, followed by Borutski, if he chooses to make a statement.

The 60-year-old is representing himself on three charges of first-degree murder at his Ontario Superior Court trial in Ottawa, but he hasn't spoken a word so far. The court entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf after Borutski failed to enter one himself.

The bodies of Carol Culleton, 66, Anastasia Kuzyk, 36, and Nathalie Warmerdam, 48, were found at three separate crime scenes in Renfrew County on Sept. 22, 2015 — Culleton at her cottage near Combermere, Ont., Kuzyk at her house in Wilno, and Wamerdam at her house near Eganville, Ont.

Here's a recap of the evidence Richardson presented alongside fellow Crown attorney Julie Scott.

Videotaped confession

The Crown started by showing a video of Borutski's statement to OPP Det. Sgt. Caley O'Neill the day after the killings.

Borutski talked at length about his mistrust of police and the justice system, about women using the system against him, about criminal records he wasn't supposed to have, and about the difference between killing and murder.

Borutski also spoke about each of the killings directly, saying he felt like a zombie and that God was on his side.

"And I remember thinking that God is really helping me, because when I went to Carol's, Carol walked right outside. And then I asked her, I said, 'Why do you hate me,' or 'Why are you doing this to me,' or both," Borutski told O'Neill.

OPP Det. Sgt. Caley O'Neill interviewed accused triple murderer Basil Borutski for nearly five hours on Sept. 23, 2015, the day after Borutski was arrested. (OPP/Ontario Superior Court of Justice)

"And then she closed the door, I was right there, and then I broke the window with my elbow and I reached in and I unlocked the door. And she said, 'This is not you, Basil, this not you.'

"Then she told me that [a man] was coming over because the hydro was out, and I said, 'You're lying to me again,' and there was a, a cable TV coil, I picked it up and I hit her with it, then I wrapped it around her head. And she just kept saying, 'This is not you, Basil, this is not you.'"

It was a similar story with Kuzyk, but this time with a gun.

"She just walked out and I asked Anastasia, I just said, 'Why did you lie in court?' And she said, 'I didn't,' and the gun went off, because it just — lies," Borutski said. "There was a little island and she was standing, and she just went down and the gun went off after she went down. It was as if it was supposed to be."

By the time he got around to Warmerdam's killing, Borutski's retelling was more matter-of-fact.

"What happened? I just drove in, walked in the door, she was sitting there, she went around the corner, I followed her, boom, walked out, that's it. ... And it was funny, it was like I wasn't even pulling the trigger on the gun, the gun was just going off. It was like, boop."

Culleton homicide

Later in the trial, Borutski's neighbour testified Borutski was "very angry" with Culleton the night before the killings, and friends and colleagues of Culleton testified she was annoyed at her handyman who was working on her cottage, and that a number of strange incidents involving him had bothered her.

Court also heard the contents of a letter addressed to Culleton, postmarked the day before her killing in Palmer Rapids, Ont., where Borutski was living. A DNA expert testified the adhesive part of the envelope had DNA linked to Borutski on it. You can read the full letter here.

The Crown also presented dozens of texts and calls between Culleton's phone and a contact identified as "Basil," which depict a friendship she made repeated attempts to get out of, and which also included veiled threats.

DNA linked to Culleton was also found on Borutski's shirt, which was seized the day of the killings.

Carol Culleton, 66, was strangled to death with a coaxial cable at her cottage on Kamaniskeg Lake Road near Combermere, Ont. (Facebook)

Kuzyk homicide

Court heard that in 2014 Borutski tried to choke Kuzyk, assaulted her, did mischief to her property and failed to comply with probation, and that Borutski was still on probation for the Kuzyk conviction when the killings occurred.

Anastasia Kuzyk, 36, was shot to death with a 12-gauge shotgun at her house on Szczipior Road in Wilno, Ont.

As well, Anastasia Kuzyk's sister, Eva Kuzyk, testified that on Sept. 22, 2015, she heard her sister scream, came downstairs, saw a man hide behind a door and found her sister on the floor.

"It's Basil," Eva remembered her sister telling her.

After confronting the man he left briefly and returned with a gun, she said.

"I thought, we are both going to die. That's what I thought. Then the gun went off, [it] sounded to me literally behind me. ... I opened the door quickly and I ran for my life. And I thought, I need to get an ambulance, he probably shot Anastasia, I have to get some help. And I opened the door and I ran for my life," she told court.

Warmerdam homicide

Court heard that in 2012 Borutski made threats to kill Warmerdam's dog and hurt her son, and did mischief to her property. As well, Borutski was still on probation for the Warmerdam conviction when he assaulted Kuzyk and tried to choke her.

Borutski was ordered to take part in a partner assault response program after the Warmerdam offences, but court heard he never attended a session due to confusion about whether he was allowed to travel there (the Warmerdams lived nearby).

Warmerdam also kept a shotgun under her bed, had a domestic violence panic button, and had a surveillance system installed at her house.

Nathalie Warmerdam, 48, was shot to death with a 12-gauge shotgun at her house on Foymount Road near Eganville, Ont. (COPKA.ca)

Her 22-year-old son, Adrian Warmerdam, testified that on Sept. 22, 2015, he heard his mother be startled by something and start to scream.

"That's when I saw her running through the kitchen towards me … I saw somebody was behind her. They rounded the corner, coming through the living room I was in, and then I saw the person following her seemed to be Basil holding a gun, so I immediately ran out of the house," he said.

"On the way out of the house I heard what seemed [to be] a gunshot. I ran out into the bush and I called 911 and waited for police."

Court also heard DNA linked to Warmerdam was found on Borutski's shirt.

Letter to probation officer

The trial also heard testimony from Borutski's probation officer, Caroline Royer, who told court she received a letter with Borutski's name on it just a few days after the killings.

"I have been wrongfully accused of hurting, assaulting women numerous times — that is not true," the five-page letter reads. "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 vane [sic]," it reads.

"I CAN'T TAKE IT anymore — I'm getting out and I'm taking as many that have abused me as possible with me. JUSTICE."

You can read the full letter here.

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