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'Like a house of cards': Defence for accused in murder trial begin closing summations

A Windsor murder trial that started in February and heard from dozens of witnesses is coming to a close as defence lawyers for the accused kicked off their closing summations Thursday.

Tameko Vilneus, 28, Kyle Hanna, 29, and Keermaro Rolle, 26, are each charged with first-degree murder in the April 1, 2020, shooting death of 20-year-old Madisen Gingras.

Each defendant standing trial is represented by a different lawyer and while they’re all facing the same charge of first-degree murder, the verdicts in the case could possibly be different for each of them.

The three Kitchener men were drug suppliers to Jacob Reaume, a local dealer of crystal meth and fentanyl. Gingras was dating Reaume when she was fatally shot in the back of the head in Reaume’s vehicle on Northwood Drive in South Windsor.

Christopher Hicks, the defence for Vilneus was first to offer summations, spending an hour speaking with the jury. He reminded the jury of his client’s presumption of innocence and that the burden of proof is on the Crown to prove his client’s guilt, beyond a reasonable doubt.

Hicks told the jury that finding his client guilty of murder would be a difficult task because of a lack of evidence connecting Vilneus to the murder of Madisen Gingras.

He also pointed to the crown’s key witness — Gingras’ boyfriend Reaume — noting his testimony was full of “contradictions, fabrications and inconsistencies” and yet the prosecution is resting its entire case on Reaume’s version of events the night of the murder and the months leading up to that fateful night.

“He was wonderfully unconcerned about lying under oath,” said Hicks, noting Reaume admitted numerous times on the stand for making false statements under oath during the preliminary hearing and to police.

Vilneus, Hicks said, testified before the jury not because he had to or because he had anything to prove.

“Mr. Vilneus’ testimony was truthful, compelling, persuasive and unshaken on cross examination,” said Hicks.

The story presented on the stand by Vilneus about what happened the night of the shooting was very different than the one offered up by Reaume earlier in the trial.

According to an agreed upon statement of facts, Reaume and Gingras were at a Windsor motel with Vilneus, Hanna and Rolle the night of the shooting.

Testimony from Reaume earlier in the trial alleged Keermaro Rolle was the one who shot Gingras, while Vilneus was also in the back seat of the car at the time of the shooting after they left the motel.

Vilneus tells a very different version of events, that neither he nor Rolle ever got into Reaume’s car, that they left the motel room separately.

“This is not a credibility contest between Mr. Reaume or Mr. Vilneus. You can’t choose one over the other,” said Hicks. “There’s no ‘choose this story or that story.’”

“You should put confidence in Vilneus’ story,” he said. “Tameko Vilneus did not shoot anyone.”

Next up was Harpreet Saini, the defence for Kyle Hanna.

He reminded the jury that the evidence from Jacob Reaume’s testimony may feel like a lifetime ago but said it was the pillar that shaped the Crown’s entire case against the three defendants.

“It Is less like a temple built on a solid foundation, more like a house of cards,” said Saini.

He pointed to the vast array of evidence presented from cell phone records to DNA, hearing from pathologists and forensic experts, seeing pictures and videos, calling it all important.

“But In the grand scheme of things, when you think about it, the case rises or falls on the word of Jacob Reaume,” said Saini. “You’re entitled to accept all, some or none of that evidence.”

“Even if you believe that evidence, you must acquit Kyle Hanna.”

On a number of occasions, Saini said it would be “dangerous” to convict Hanna on the strength of Reaume’s evidence, noting he was dishonest with police at the onset and it affected the investigation that followed.

“Mr. Reaume gave an entirely fictional version of events to police,” he said. “Officers were tasked to investigate based on the lies of Mr. Reaume… when Mr. Reaume was sending them off, he was sending them off on a wild goose chase.”

To the charge of first-degree murder, Saini reminded the jury that it must also find there was intent, something he argues will be very difficult.

“That’s where things will get a little more complicated and muddy. I suggest this is where the crown will be unable to prove its case,” said Saini, noting even in Reaume’s version of events, Hanna is not a major player and had no motive to harm Madisen Gingras.

“There is significant reasonable doubt,” he said. “I suggest you should find Mr. Kyle Hanna not-guilty.”

Frank Retar, the lawyer representing Keermaro Rolle, will deliver his closing summations Friday morning.

The crown will then get its final chance to address the jury before it begins deliberations. Top Stories

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