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Court hears undercover tapes in case of man accused of killing Tina Fontaine

Tina Fontaine is seen in an undated handout photo.

Winnipeg Police Service handout/The Canadian Press

A man accused of murdering an Indigenous teenager in Winnipeg was recorded by police saying he'd bet the girl was killed because he found out she was only 15 years old.

"I drew the line and that's why she got killed," Raymond Cormier said in tapes played in court Wednesday.

Cormier, 55, is on trial for second-degree murder in the death of Tina Fontaine, whose body was found wrapped in a duvet filled with rocks in the Red River in August 2014.

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Experts have testified that they don't know how Fontaine died. And no DNA has been found linking Cormier to the killing.

Crown prosecutors closed their case by playing tapes from a six-month undercover operation into Tina's death called Project Styx, which saw police bug Cormier's apartment from June to December 2015.

Cormier was placed in the apartment for free as part of the police operation and an undercover officer moved into a suite on the same floor. The officer testified that police planned 62 different "scenarios" to get a reaction from Cormier, including one which made it seem like a female undercover officer was a victim of domestic assault.

In conversations with the undercover officer played in court, Cormier said there are "three rules to crime: deny, deny deny."

In the first tape, Cormier speaks with an unidentified woman about the first time he met Tina while riding his bike. Tina and a friend ask him to stop and he responds, "There's only one reason why I'll stop."

He tells the woman that Tina looks young and alludes to having sex with the teen.

He also speaks about going to a mutual friend's house after Tina's boyfriend has left town. He thinks they're going to have sex, then they get into an argument. The trial has already heard from witnesses who say they saw Cormier arguing with Tina the night of Aug. 6, 2014.

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Also on tape, Cormier tells a woman that when he last talked to Tina, he told her to go jump off a bridge.

Before she died, Tina travelled to Winnipeg to try to reconnect with her mother but became a sexually exploited youth, running away from shelters and hotels where she was housed by Manitoba Child and Family Services.

As many of the tapes were being played in court, Thelma Favel, Tina's great-aunt who raised her for most of her life on the Sagkeeng First Nation, left the courtroom.

The audio captured Cormier, often mumbling and stuttering, telling numerous people that he was attracted to Tina or they'd had a sexual relationship. In one conversation, Cormier says he had sex with the teen but she had found a knife, got angry and told him to get away.

Speaking to one woman, Cormier asks if she has ever been "haunted by something" before he starts to talk about Tina and boast that he beat two murders.

During a later recording from, Cormier argues with a woman about a nude photo on Facebook, saying there's a little girl in a "grave someplace screaming at the top of her lungs for me to finish the job. And guess what? I finished the job."

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Court also heard Cormier in a recording warning people in his apartment not to overdose or they would end up wrapped in a carpet, thrown in the river.

Defence lawyer Andrew Synyshyn told court the audio on the tapes could have been misheard and the transcripts could have errors.

In 2014 when Tina Fontaine was found dead in the Red River in Winnipeg, Manitoba, her great aunt Thelma Favel struggled to accept Tina's treatment in the care of Manitoba's Child and Family Services. The murder trial of suspect Raymond Cormier begins January 29.
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