‘Breach him forever,’ probation service warned about Ottawa Valley triple murderer
CBC highlights some of the testimony at the Renfrew County inquest
CBC reports on some of Kirsten Mercer’s cross-examination of a probation supervisor at the inquest into the murders of three women in Renfrew County.
On Thursday, Kirsten Mercer, the lawyer for End Violence Against Women Renfrew County, a local coalition asking questions of witnesses in the inquest, grilled Pearson at length about probation officers’ handling of the case. Pearson was not directly involved but reviewed case files.
Mercer drew from an internal probation service review written just over a month after the murders that was entered into the inquest record.
It found probation officers missed opportunities to reprimand and more closely monitor Borutski, including gathering more information about him from collateral contacts, such as victims.
The report said that given his violent history — including convictions for threatening Warmerdam’s son and brutally beating Kuzyk — and his continued denial of responsibility, “it would have been reasonable to have him considered as a potential intensive supervision offender.”
“I agree, yes,” Pearson said when asked if he concurred.
Mercer also referenced a December 2014 email from an institutional rehab officer to the probation service. It was sent shortly before Borutski was set to be released from jail after his conviction for assaulting Kuzyk.
“It is my opinion that the victims are at risk from this individual,” the officer wrote, according to the information read aloud by Mercer. “It has been my experience with abusers such as this one … that he will not comply at all. You will have to breach, breach, breach and breach him forever.”
“If you got that kind of email from someone who’d had a fair bit of contact with the offender while in prison,” Mercer then put to Pearson, “would that inform your judgment about how to treat him when he starts wiggling on the requirements?”
“I believe it would, yes,” Pearson replied.
At one point in her cross-examination, Mercer focused on the seven-month period from February 2015 — when Borutski was deemed a high risk to recommit intimate partner violence — and the murders.
This was the period in which he stalked Culleton, unbeknownst to police.
It’s also when he continued to give excuses for not attending a court-mandated program treating men who abuse their partners. He had originally been ordered to do so more than two years earlier.
The inquest has heard probation officers encouraged him to attend but never charged him for breaching the conditions of his probation, prompting Mercer to ask why more enforcement steps weren’t taken.
“In this case, I think that we’ve conceded that we would have liked to see additional direction given, additional enforcement protocols put in place as it relates to the offender’s attendance. There is a gap there,” Pearson said.
The internal probation service review concluded that if probation officers had gathered more collateral information about Borutski from personal contacts and police, “subtle indications of deviance … may have been made more clear.”
But the signs were anything but subtle, Mercer said to Pearson.
“Much of it was not,” Pearson agreed.
Mercer pointed to one of Borutski’s first meetings with a probation officer, in January 2013, when he was released from jail following his conviction related to Warmerdam. He was ordered to stay away from her upon release.
“He talks about how he’s entitled to show up … on the edge of her property and hang out there,” Mercer said, again referring to notes in the case.
The probation officer “disabused” him of that idea, Mercer added, before asking Pearson if that sounded like someone who was going to push the boundaries of his probation.
“I would consider it an indication of someone’s willingness to comply with the condition,” Pearson replied.
Mercer then switched the focus to May 2013, when Warmerdam, Crown attorneys and police voiced a “deluge” of concerns about him having moved to a location closer to Warmerdam following his conviction related to her.
Pearson said the probation officer talked to Warmerdam about the possibility of serving him with a peace bond, but she didn’t because “she did not want to bring herself back into the offender’s focus.”
“So she was afraid of antagonizing him, is that right?” Mercer clarified.
“That’s how I would interpret that, yes,” Pearson said.
“Does that seem like a red flag at all?” Mercer pressed on.
“Victims expressing concern would be a red flag, yes,” he replied.
Read the parties’ joint submissions on the recommendations they are asking the jury to make.