There was a lot of stuff going on in the news cycle this past week.
The Raymond Cormier trial took centre stage and chewed up the headlines in newspapers across the Country.
Cormier stands charged with murder in the August 2014 killing of Winnipeg teen Tina Fontaine (15).
Thus far the trial featured a highly combative witness, evidence related to stolen trucks and duvet covers and some “out of the box thinking” by the Homicide investigators who laboured to solve the case.
The story regarding the grotesquely violent random attack on a teenaged exchange student from India continued to evolve.
We learned the alleged attacker, Joshua Zachary Snakeskin (26) of Alberta, was recently released from prison after serving (18) months of a (2) year (86) day sentence for a number of crimes, that included offences related to a high-speed chase with a stolen vehicle that he drove directly towards an RCMP officer.
When Winnipeg Police Officers closed in on him, Snakeskin tried the same trick in his desperate attempt to avoid capture.
He now stands charged with a number of charges that include assault police officer with a weapon.
There were other stories…
- Police charge 4th man in 2017 beating death
- Police pick up trio for B&E spree
- One man dead, one in custody in Pukatawagan
- High risk sex offender released from custody
- Robbery suspect arrested by retired police officer
The story you didn’t hear was the one about the two-time killer convicted on Thursday in a tragic case of domestic violence.
The Back Story
On November 21, 2014 at approximately 3:00 a.m., members of the Winnipeg Police Service responded to a suite located in the 500 block of Victor Street regarding an injured woman.
When police arrived at the scene they reported they found the woman suffering from “serious injuries consistent with being stabbed.”
The woman was transported to hospital in critical condition and later died.
She was identified as Beatrice Ann Crane (44) of Winnipeg.
The WPS Homicide Unit worked on the case.
It was no slam dunk.
In fact, it took one-hundred and twenty-three (123) days to make an arrest.
On March 23, 2015, police arrested and charged Ronald Alvin Thomas (43) with manslaughter in connection with Crane’s killing.
The motive – domestic violence…
Thomas was convicted last Thursday after a jury of his peers found him guilty as charged.
It was a difficult case to prove.
Police didn’t find the murder weapon, there was no confession, no DNA evidence pointing at the accused and the trial Judge made several rulings favouring the defence. In fact, the case was almost entirely circumstantial.
We can credit the Crown Prosecutors who tried the case. They were well prepared, skilled in their craft and committed to seeking justice for the victim and those who loved her.
The story doesn’t end there.
The Back Story, Back Story
I met Thomas in June of 1997.
During that summer, the City of Winnipeg was being terrorized by two (2) unidentified robbery suspects who were preying on businesses that included hotels, video stores, drug stores, 7-11’s and grocery stores.
The suspects were armed with an uzi style machine gun and proved they weren’t afraid to use it.
In all, police believed the men were responsible for up to twenty-one (21) armed robberies.
Whoever these men were, there was no question they had to be considered armed and extremely dangerous.
In a bizarre twist, Thomas and his accomplice robbed the Vimy Park Pharmacy directly across the street from yours truly who was seated in a ghost car having a bite to eat with my partner Detective Sergeant George “Jungle” Murray.
During his arrest, Thomas attempted to pull a 13 1/2 butcher knife from his waist band.
I would find out later Thomas was wanted on the strength of a Canada wide arrest warrant for parole violations after serving a five-year federal sentence for robbery.
I would also find out he was a convicted killer.
He would later tell me he had no intention of going back to prison and if he could have retrieved his knife he would have stabbed me in his bid to escape.
Suffice it to say, he was a lucky man that day.
I guess we both were.
The Murder Merry-Go-Round
In 1989, Thomas (18) was charged with manslaughter in the killing of Victor Davis Cameron (24), whose body was found by a real-estate agent trying to collect rent.
He was subsequently convicted of the charge and received a four and a half (4 1/2) year sentence.
A four and a half (4 1/2) year sentence for killing another human being.
Ronald Alvin Thomas now finds himself in the distinct category, albeit not as rare as one would think, of being a twice convicted killer.
Now that he’s been convicted, the Crown must turn their attention to sentencing.
What range is proper under the circumstances?
You would think the discussion has to include a life sentence with a minimum sentence starting somewhere north of two digits.
How could he possibly get less?
I guess we’ll see.
That brings us back to where we started.
There was a lot of stuff going on in the news cycle this week.
How is it that a case like this was not deemed worthy enough to report?
I don’t get it.
The story is compelling enough on the face of it.
It should become even more compelling when you consider the fact Beatrice Crane, was an Indigenous woman murdered by an Indigenous man in the context of a domestic violence killing.
Nothing relevant to report there I suppose.
In 2014, the WPS Homicide Unit achieved a 100% solvency rate solving all 26 reported murder cases.
Detective Sergeant George “Jungle” Murray is the father of current WPS Public Information Officer Constable Jay Murray.