Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Witness in triple murder trial, seems to be inconsistent

I attended the first degree murder trial of a 17 year old teen, charged with 3 counts of first degree murder and 3 counts of attempted murder, here in Winnipeg. 

The Crown's most important witness, Howard Roulette, was being cross-examined this morning by defence lawyers. Roulette had been at a party with Patchinose but they then left and drove to Pathinose's home. Roulette remained in the vehicle while he claims Patchinose changed clothes and after about 20 minutes, returned to the car with his teen co-accused. Both were now wearing neck warmers, hoodies and hats. He claims that he drove both accused's to the house where the party was being held.  He claims that a conversation took place inside the vehicle en route to the party, where he first observed that the 15 year old teen and his co-accused Colton Patchinose, had guns on their laps. They allegedly said that they "planned on doing something." Roulette asked them what they planned to do, and they responded, "shoot the place up." Roulette said that he didn't want to be involved because his cousin was at the party, but the accused put a gun to his head and told him that he had no choice. 

The defence suggested to Roulette that he had been hanging out with Patchinose regularly prior to the shooting for the purpose of participating in the facilitation of selling drugs with Patchinose. Roulette denied this suggestion. 

The defence outlined Roulette's extensive criminal history, pertaining to his crediblity as a witness. Roulette has been charged with robbery, assault causing bodily harm (on his spouse at the time, which he plead guilty to), unlawful storage of firearms (which he also plead guilty to),  failure to appear in court, forcible confinement,  and failure to comply with conditions. He received 5 months prison for the forcible confinement conviction. He was also charged with theft and assault, but both of those charges were stayed. 

Just after the shooting took place when Roulette was being questioned by police, the defence suggest that he lied to police. The officers had just informed Roulette that they were going to search his vehicle for prints. Almost immediately after learning this, Roulette quickly said mentioned that the teen accused was wearing gloves at the time of the shooting, so his prints would not be found. The defence suggests that he lied about this "fact" and only told police at this point, because he knew that the teen's prints would not be found in the car and he needed an explanation. The defence suggests that the teen was never in the vehicle. In court, Roulette appeared to be frustrated with defence lawyers and denied that he lied. 

When he testified at the preliminary hearing, Roulette had said that neither of the accuseds had stated why they had guns while in the vehicle or what they were going to do with them. The defence suggested that all of the conversation about the guns in the vehicle, never happened. In court, Roulette denied this, arguing that it did in fact happen. He provided an explanation to the court, saying that he obviously didn't remember at the prelim. The defence countered that argument by saying that he should have remembered better at that point, as the prelim was closer to the event than this court trial. He claimed that "it must have slipped my mind. I'm not a tape recorder." 

At the preliminary hearing, he had said that all of the people at the party were either White or Aboriginal. Patchinose said however, that the individual that had stabbed him only weeks earlier, was Black, and claimed that that person was at the party. There were no black individuals at the party though. 

The defence argues that Roulette is an inconsistent and untrustworthy witness, as his testimonies and statements are conflicting. He tells the story differently, every time and had lied to police. 

When police had questioned Roulette initially, he didn't inform them that Colton (his friend and one of the accused shooters) had been previously stabbed by some individuals at that house party, which could be motive for why he gunned the place down. He only told the police this fact, when they specifically asked, which was close to the end of the interview. Colton had mentioned that he recognized some of the people who had stabbed him, at the party. 

At the preliminary hearing of the 17 year old teen, Roulette could not remember the conversation in the car that night of the stabbing. Defence argued that if he really was forced at gunpoint, he could have left the vehicle or drove away or called police, when he was "forced" to wait while the two alleged shooters went into the house. Roulette argued that it was too big of a risk and that he was scared. 

He also lied to police before. 

Roulette told police that the two accused had offered him $1000 to participate in the shootings. Defence suggested that he didn't go to police right away, because he wanted that money. Defence suggested that he took part in the shootings. After the two accused came back to his car, he drove them back to there house and the Defence suggested, he did this because he wanted to collect his money. If he was scared for his life, he could have called a cab for them. 

Defence suggested that he fabricated his story so that he wouldn't implicate himself, because police told him that he could be charged with murder, for driving the accuseds to the house party. Defence suggested that after being told this, he changed his story to say that he had a gun to his head and was forced, because he did not want to incriminate himself and wanted to "get out of there" (the police station). Roulette said, that he "only wanted to tell them the truth."

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