PEMBROKE, Ont. — A 60-year-old man convicted of killing three women during an hour-long rampage in the Ottawa Valley two years ago has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 70 years.
Basil Borutski was convicted late last month of first-degree murder in the deaths of 36-year-old Anastasia Kuzyk and 48-year-old Nathalie Warmerdam, and of second-degree murder in slaying of Carol Culleton.
Culleton was strangled with a television coaxial cable and Kuzyk and Warmerdam were both killed with a 12-gauge shotgun fired at close range. They all died within about an hour of each other at their residences in Renfrew County on the morning of Sept. 22, 2015.
Court heard Borutski shot Kuzyk while she cowered behind her kitchen island and chased Warmerdam around her farmhouse before shooting her at point-blank range as she tried to run up the stairs.
He broke into Culleton’s cottage, picked up a coaxial cable and wrapped it around the 66-year-old’s neck six times, the Crown told court.
Justice Robert Maranger ruled Wednesday that Borutski will serve two consecutive life sentences — which each carry a parole ineligibilty of 25 years — for first-degree murder followed by at least 20 years of a life sentence for second-degree murder.
The Crown had asked for the severe penalty at a sentencing hearing on Tuesday as families of Borutski’s victims appealed to the judge to imprison him for life.
“I beg the court to keep this man away from my family and society for the rest of his living days,” Warmerdam’s father Frank John Hopkins said in a statement read to the court.
Borutski refused to make any comments or submissions and showed no emotion as the families of his three victims told of their heartbreak through victim impact statements.
“There is a huge hole in our lives and our family. Daily we walk under a black cloud,” said her mother Maz Tracey.
Five impact statements were read in court Tuesday including one from Lorraine Wallace, a friend of Carol Culleton.
“All her dreams cannot be realized because of you,” she said.
A community impact statement read by Jennifer Valiquette and Joanne Brooks with End Violence Against Women in Renfrew County told how that September day in 2015 changed the lives of many.
“For many in the violence against women community, September 22 is known as the Renfrew County massacre. They no longer feel safe walking on the rural roads or hiking in the bush.”
Prior to the murders, Borutski — who chose to forgo having a lawyer during the trial, but barely said a word during the proceedings — had twice spent time in jail after two of the women accused him of assault and uttering threats.
Following his conviction, Leighann Burns, executive director of Ottawa-based women’s shelter Harmony House, said Borutski’s reputation as a violent and dangerous person was well-known in and around the Ontario community of Wilno, not far from where the three women lived.
In a videotaped interview played at trial, Borutski expressed a degree of remorse for his actions, which he said were fuelled by rage at what he considered to be the lies and betrayals of his victims.
In the video, he described how he was acting like a “zombie” on the day in question, saying he’d originally planned to take his own life, but decided against it because he believed it was wrong to take an innocent life.
“I killed them because they were not innocent,” Borutski says in the video. “They were guilty. I was innocent. I’ve done nothing wrong.”
He argued that Kuzyk and Warmerdam lied in court when they helped get him convicted of threatening and assaulting them and Culleton lied about her relationship with him and then shunned him for another man.
“Borutski would have us cast some sort of biblical justification upon what is really nothing more than a callous, premeditated act of revenge, an act of murder in any way you define it,” Crown attorney Jeffery Richardson said in his closing statement to the jury. “There is no justification for what he did.”