Crown won’t appeal acquittal of accused in Tina Fontaine case

Prosecutors say only errors in law can be appealed when someone is found not guilty

The Crown will not appeal the acquittal of a man who was accused of killing 15-year-old Tina Fontaine and dumping her body in a Winnipeg river.

Prosecutors said in a statement Tuesday that only errors in law can be appealed when someone is found not guilty.

RELATED: Man accused in death of Winnipeg teen Tina Fontaine not guilty

“After a critical review … by the Manitoba Prosecution Service’s appeal unit and the Crown attorneys who prosecuted the case, it has been determined there are no grounds to base a successful appeal,” said the statement.

A jury found Raymond Cormier not guilty last month of second-degree murder in the Indigenous girl’s death.

Her body, wrapped in a duvet cover and weighed down by rocks, was pulled from Winnipeg’s Red River eight days after she disappeared in August 2014.

The Crown said it had advised Tina’s family of the decision.

Grand Chief Sheila North, who represents First Nations communities in northern Manitoba, said the lack of an appeal leaves people hurting.

“This is just another blow to the reality that the justice system has failed Tina Fontaine and her family,” North said.

“It just leaves another gaping hole in the hearts of … Indigenous people.”

RELATED: ‘All of us should be ashamed’: Calls for change after jury finds Raymond Cormier not guilty

James Favel, who established the volunteer Bear Clan Patrol to keep an eye on inner-city streets following Tina’s death, was not surprised by the decision.

“We don’t even really have the expectation of justice anymore,” he said. “When these verdicts come down the way they do, it’s really no surprise to anyone, and that’s the problem.”

Tina was raised by her great-aunt, Thelma Favel, from the Sagkeeng First Nation, 120 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. The teen left to visit her mother in Winnipeg at the end of June 2014 and became an exploited youth.

Favel called Child and Family Services with concerns about Tina, who ran away repeatedly from a youth shelter and hotels where she was placed.

She was last seen leaving a downtown hotel, where she told a private contract worker employed by child welfare that she was going to a shopping centre to meet friends.

Over three weeks of testimony, the jury heard how Tina and her boyfriend met the much-older Cormier in the summer of 2014. The jury heard Cormier gave the couple a place to stay, gave Tina drugs and had sex with her.

Witnesses remember Tina and Cormier fighting in the street over a stolen truck and Tina accusing him of selling her bike for drugs. Tina went so far as to report a stolen truck to police.

Witnesses testified that Cormier had a duvet cover similar to the one Tina was wrapped in. Cormier was also recorded on tape during an undercover sting telling a woman that he would make a bet that Tina was killed because he had had sex with her and then “I found out she was 15 years old.”

There was no DNA evidence linking Cormier to the teen and doctors who were called to testify said they could not definitively say how she died.

The defence argued that without DNA evidence and no cause of death, the Crown couldn’t prove that Tina didn’t die from a drug overdose or naturally in what Cormier’s lawyer called the “underbelly of the city.”

The acquittal sparked rallies of protest and support for Tina’s family in cities across the country.

It came just weeks after another acquittal in a high-profile case in Saskatchewan. A jury found Gerald Stanley not guilty in the death of Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Indigenous man who was shot in the head after he and some of his friend drove onto Stanley’s farm.

RELATED: Hundreds march for justice in death of Winnipeg teen

Stanley testified he thought the young people were stealing and he fired warning shots to scare them off. He said the shot that killed Boushie was an accident.

Last week, the Crown in Saskatchewan also decided against an appeal, saying it could find no error in law.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

PG RCMP seeks information following third suspicious incident involving child

Most recent incident occurred near North Tabor Boulevard and Ospika Boulevard

Quesnel River Archers score top prizes in 100 Mile House

Six of eight shooters landed top five finishes

Quesnel joins global Youth Climate Strike

Twelve-year-old organizes Fridays for Future Strike

Bill passes to make Sept. 30 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation statutory holiday

Residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad and CRD Area F director Joan Sorley were in Ottawa for the vote

Quesnel’s new Forestry Initiatives Program up and running

Construction has also begun on the Forestry Innovation Centre at City Hall

After mosque attacks, New Zealand bans ‘military-style’ guns

The gunman killed 50 in a Christchurch mosque

Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from B.C. roaster recalled due to botulism scare

“If you purchased N7 Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from Cherry Hill … do not drink it.”

B.C. man gets award for thwarting theft, sexual assault – all in 10 minutes

Karl Dey helped the VPD take down a violent sex offender

Nowhere to grieve: How homeless people deal with loss during the opioid crisis

Abbotsford homeless advocate says grief has distinct challenges for those living on the streets

ICBC shifts to Alberta model, with higher rates, private insurers say

B.C. public insurance includes funding enforcement, driver licensing

B.C., feds accused of ‘environmental racism’ over Site C, Mount Polley

Amnesty International Canada says governments failed to recognize threats to Indigenous peoples

New Leger polls suggests federal Liberals lagging Conservatives

Overall, 31 per cent of respondents polled said they would vote for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals

Most Read