Almost five years to the day that 73-year-old Elizabeth Lafantaisie was murdered, a jury has decided the fate of the man accused. A verdict has been reached and 680 CJOB will have that announcement as soon as it becomes official.
The lawyer for Thomas Brine, 29, says his client is telling the truth – that he didn’t sexually assault and kill Lafantaisie. He just found her body in the trunk of a stolen car.
During closing arguments Tuesday morning, defense lawyer Bruce Bonney said “careless” notetaking by a police officer means a key piece of DNA evidence should be disregarded.
Last week, the jury heard that a swab taken from inside Lafantaisie had semen on it. The DNA extracted from it matched Brine’s DNA profile. The odds it would match any other Canadian would be one in 68-trillion.
But Bonney argued the officer taking notes at the autopsy was “negligent” in his documentation. He said a labeling mistake could have been made, so that evidence shouldn’t be trusted.
Bonney also told the jury the sperm could have been the result of an “innocent transfer”, from when Brine was rooting around in the trunk after finding Lafantaisie’s body.
“At the end of the day, I’m suggesting that there is a reasonable doubt here,” he told jurors.
In a statement to police played in court, Brine told officers he stole a running vehicle from a parkade on Adamar Road and drove it to a University Crescent parkade to break into other vehicles, but found Lafantaisie’s body in the trunk.
Brine told them he panicked when he found the body. He said he threw some of her belongings into the parkade stairwell, took the car through a carwash to clean off his fingerprints before ditching it on a street in Osborne Village, Lafantaisie’s body still inside.
Jurors were shown photos of a car matching the description of Lafantaisie’s vehicle in the carwash. A woman who found some of Lafantaisie’s belongings on the stairs also testified.
Brine’s lawyer argued if his client did kill Lafantaisie, it would be too risky to drive the vehicle from parkade to parkade. He suggested Brine also would have done more to cover up the killing, like disposing of her body another way.
Crown Says “Lots” Of Evidence To Convict
Crown prosecutor Brian Bell told the jury there is reason to convict Brine.
“The evidence is straightforward. And frankly, there’s lots of it.”
He said a lot of what Brine said in his statement to police was true, but a lot of it was lies.
Brine initially told detectives he had never even heard about the killing. But hours later he told them he found her body in the trunk of the car.
Bell told the jury the charge of first-degree murder is appropriate because the killer meant to cause bodily harm that could result in death, and because a sexual assault had occurred.
“Why did all this happen? We’ll never know. But who is the killer? We say it’s Thomas Brine,” he said.
The judge delivered her final instructions to the jury Wednesday before they began deliberations.