‘Wounds that cut to the bone’: Crown seeks 70 years for Basil Borutski
Basil Borutski should spend the rest of his life in prison with no chance of parole, the Crown argued in court as the triple murderer’s sentencing hearing got underway in Pembroke, Ont., Tuesday.
Crown Jeffery Richardson is seeking consecutive periods of parole ineligibility totalling 70 years — just five years short of the maximum — meaning Borutski would die in prison for his crimes.
‘Even as he becomes an old man, society needs to be separated from Basil Borutski.’ – Crown attorney Jeffery Richardson
“Even as he becomes an old man, society needs to be separated from Basil Borutski,” Richardson told court. “[He] holds a grudge. Anyone that wrongs him is a potential victim of violence at his hands. This is a threat that … will never diminish until he himself dies.”
Amicus curiae James Foord, a lawyer appointed by the court to ensure Borutski gets a fair trial, agreed with the Crown that there needs to be consecutive periods of parole ineligibility. But he argued it shouldn’t be unduly long or harsh, and that 40 years is on the “outer limits” of an appropriate length of time.
By then Borutski would be about 97 years old. For context, Foord said, the average life expectancy of a man in Canada is about 80.
Borutski was silent when asked if he wished to speak. During the proceedings Tuesday he sat with his legs crossed and either looked at the floor, closed his eyes or yawned.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Maranger will deliver his decision Wednesday at 11 a.m.
‘We still live in fear’
Borutski was convicted Nov. 24 of two counts of first-degree murder for shooting Anastasia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmerdam, and one count of second-degree murder for strangling Carol Culleton.
He is automatically sentenced to life in prison, and on Wednesday he’ll find out how long he’ll have to wait to apply for parole. It will be at least 25 years and could be up to 70.
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- FULL COVERAGE: Review all the court stories filed from Borutski’s trial here
About 50 people, including some family members and friends of the victims, filed silently into the courtroom Tuesday, where victim impact statements were read out by Crown attorney Julie Scott.
Kristy Schultz, who has been dating Warmerdam’s son Adrian Warmerdam for years, wrote that “everything went silent” between them after the murder.
“Adrian and I still live our lives in fear. No matter where we go we’re always on edge. It’s now been over two years and we still live in fear,” Schultz wrote, adding she still has nightmares about Borutski coming to kill them.
‘He will continue his executions’
Nathalie Warmerdam’s father, Frank John Hopkins, wrote a statement thanking God that his family “has come through relatively well,” but also begging the court to “keep this man away from my family and society for the rest of his living days.”
Hopkins wrote Borutski “has led a very unfortunate life and must feel that everybody has deserted him,” but, “being an accomplished con artist, he used these misfortunes to dupe women that came into his life, including, it would seem, his parole officer.
“… It would be nice to think that he was remorseful or wished to seek help to alleviate his inner torment, but he has shown no desire for either of these. Instead, he holds on to the belief that the rest of the world is to blame for his downfall and he is determined to get justice. We have seen Mr. Borutski’s idea of justice and I fear that he will continue his executions if given the chance to do so.”
Maz Tracey, Nathalie Warmerdam’s mother, wrote that no sentence would ever be enough, “but hopefully justice will afford some kind of closure, allowing us to move forward in a calmer and more accepting manner, while never forgetting what we have lost.”
And Culleton’s friend and colleague, Lorraine Wilson, wrote Culleton’s death “left a huge void” in Culleton’s sister’s life.
“All of her dreams can never be realized because of you, such a manipulative, horrible being, who has no regard for women or human life, only your own selfish wellbeing,” Wilson wrote, addressing Borutski directly.
Women’s advocates speak out
A community impact statement was also read by the co-chairs of a group called End Violence Against Women Renfrew County.
“Many in our community would like to believe that the murders of these three women were the act of a deranged, mentally ill man, but we know that isn’t true,” said Jennifer Valiquette, who is also a clinical nursing manager at Renfrew Victoria Hospital.
“Like most abusive men, the murderer refused to take responsibility for his acts of violence. His hatred, his mistrust and his mistreatment of women continued to escalate, accepted by his like-minded, misogynistic peer group.”
JoAnne Brooks, also executive director of the Women’s Sexual Assault Centre of Renfrew County, said violence against women continues in the county, which faces “unique day-to-day vulnerabilities such as personal isolation due to vast geography, no public transportation, women’s economic realities, potentially long crisis response times, lack of privacy and confidentiality, concerns about where to hide and be safe, and a lack of community resources due to funding by population.”
‘Words simply do not come’
Richardson also took time Tuesday to mention Culleton’s brother and sister, Kuzyk’s mother, brother and three sisters, and Warmerdam’s boyfriend, daughter Valerie and son Adrian.
Their losses were just too great for them to manage victim impact statements of their own, he said, and “no sentence will provide reparation for them.”
“[Adrian] is barely more than a boy, a boy who grew up in the space of seconds, the seconds that Mr. Borutski was in his house killing his mother, a boy who grew up in the long wait for the police as he lay in the woods,” Richardson said.
As for Valerie, “so enormous is her loss that words simply do not come to her.”
“[And Nathalie Warmerdam’s] boyfriend, who has been a faithful attender of almost every court date since Sept. 22, 2015, did not submit a victim impact statement. Why? His impact is so profound, that he does not wish his feelings of loss to become part of the public record,” Richardson said.
‘No sentence will be the balm’
Richardson also addressed media coverage of the case, some of which has been critical of the justice system’s dealings with Borutski leading up to the murders.
- TIMELINE: Basil Borutski’s history of violence
- FEATURE: What the courts knew about Basil Borutski before the murders
“Those who participate in the justice system in Renfrew County, who have worked hard to discharge their duty to the public, have been wrongfully maligned and attacked in the media — all too quick to blame someone other than him for the events of Sept. 22, 2015,” Richardson said, turning around to point at Borustki in the prisoner’s box behind him.
“These are deep wounds, wounds that cut to the bone, wounds, some of which, will never heal … wounds for which no sentence will be a balm.”
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