Pembroke – After spending close to three years incarcerated at the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre (OCDC) as a result of being charged with second-degree murder of 40-year-old Gilbert Rumleskie at the Pine Tree Motel in Eganville, Brandon Lamoureux left the Pembroke courthouse Monday a free man after Justice Anne London-Weinstein ruled he was not guilty of the July 21, 2021 slaying.

In delivering her verdict in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, she described the accused as a reliable witness, questioned the reliability of two key Crown witnesses and even speculated another person may have stabbed the victim.

Mr. Lamoureux sat in the prisoner’s box, wearing regular civilian clothes and unlike some other defendants who arrive in shackles for their hearing, he sat unrestrained as two special OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) court constables stood beside the box while two regular OPP officers stood at the courtroom entrance.

The accused, who had been detained at the OCDC for 1,015 days, was represented by Pembroke attorneys Mark Huckabone and Forest Poff-Smith while Renfrew County Crown Attorney James Bocking and Assistant Crown Attorney Goher Irfan led the prosecution.

For more than two hours, Justice London-Weinstein read directly from her ruling and began by acknowledging the case was extended beyond the norm due to unexpected delays.

One of her first official acts in the case was to remove Mr. Lamoureux’s original defence counsel, Jason Gilbert, from the case citing a conflict of interest. Mr. Huckabone and Mr. Poff-Smith were retained as counsel.

Former Renfrew County Crown Attorney Julian LaLonde led the prosecution until he was appointed a Justice of the Peace and assigned to an Eastern Ontario court last December.

Mr. Bocking took over the case and joined Ms. Irfan who was originally assigned to the case.

A hearing was held in early January 2024 and Mr. Bocking requested an adjournment until February 12 so he could familiarize himself with the case. Justice London-Weinstein granted the request but stated she wanted the trial to end in February.

After closing arguments were delivered on February 21, Justice London-Weinstein indicated she would deliver a verdict on March 25. However, she later told all parties her verdict would be delivered on May 6, but no explanation was given for the delay.

Based on her lengthy ruling this week, it appears much of that time may have been devoted to analyzing video evidence presented by the prosecution. The video was from the motel surveillance camera and documented the slaying, and that evidence played a major role in her final decision.

Statement of Facts

She began her ruling with a brief overview with a Statement of Facts. She said Mr. Rumleskie lived in room #2 at the motel before Mr. Lamoureux took up residence and soon after, Jordan Plumb, 19, and his girlfriend, Ashley Dombroskie, moved into Room #18.

Ms. Dombroskie’s mother, Ann Coulas, was the former romantic partner of Mr. Rumleskie and it is believed he never fully accepted their break-up. He was jealous, especially towards Mr. Lamoureux as he believed the accused was sexually involved with Ms. Coulas.

Prior to July 21, the men often gathered in Mr. Rumleskie’s room and consumed alcohol, smoked and socialized.

On the morning of July 21, 2021, Ms. Coulas drove Mr. Lamoureux, Mr. Plumb and Ms. Dombroskie to Pikwakanagan to purchase cigarettes. When they returned in the late afternoon, Mr. Rumleskie walked in a very aggressive manner up to Mr. Plumb’s room and appeared to be flicking his left hand as though he was opening a knife, although this was never proven.

“Tensions between Mr. Rumleskie and Mr. Lamoureux simmered in the hours before the stabbing of Mr. Rumleskie and those tensions culminated in a fight between Mr. Rumleskie, Mr. Plumb and Jordan Lamoureux,” she said. “Mr. Rumleskie died of a single stab wound to the abdomen and the weapon believed used was a green and black snake-eyed knife belonging to Mr. Plumb.

“Mr. Plumb’s DNA was on the knife along with the victim’s DNA and Mr. Plumb’s girlfriend removed the knife from the motel and later turned it over to police. She claimed not to know the murder weapon had been secreted in her tattoo bag and Mt. Plumb claimed he had not told her he placed the knife in the bag.”

Mr. Lamoureux and Mr. Plumb were arrested by Killaloe OPP officers and both were initially charged with first-degree murder. Charges against Mr. Plumb were later withdrawn and Mr. Lamoureux was charged with second-degree murder. Mr. Plumb would later testify as a Crown witness and he told the court he lied to the police during his original statement because he was fearful of the accused.

He told police Mr. Lamoureux placed the murder weapon in his pocket and he was instructed by the accused to say Mr. Rumleskie had the knife, it was self-defense and he fell into the knife while Mr. Plumb restrained him in a bear hug.

While testifying on behalf of the Crown, he told the court he lied because Mr. Lamoureux warned him he murdered a man in Ottawa and was not caught along, as well as had tied up and forced a man to remain in the bathroom for three days to settle a drug deal.

There were previous volatile incidents between the victim and the accused, including an episode when Mr. Rumleskie was impaired and was insulting Ms. Dombroskie and another woman using vulgar language while drinking in his room. Mr. Lamoureux was present and he removed himself and the women and returned to his own room. Mr. Rumleskie followed them and entered Mr. Lamoureux’s room and he was asked to leave several times.

The court heard Mr. Lamoureux got off his bed and repeatedly stabbed a wall and threatened Mr. Rumleskie.

Judge Explains Process

“The stabbing of the victim was captured on a grainy surveillance video that was part of the Pine Tree Motel security system and the video identifies the people at the time of the killing but it does not show a knife,” Justice London-Weinstein said. “Further, the parked vehicles partially obstruct the view at a critical juncture when Mr. Plumb pushed the victim up against a car. All the participants in the video had been consuming alcohol that day, plus Mr. Plumb and Mr. Lamoureux had been smoking cannabis at times during the day.”

She explained the main issue is to determine who stabbed Mr. Rumleskie causing his death, and if that is determined, then the secondary issue is to determine if the Crown met its obligation to present evidence that is beyond reasonable doubt and that the killer had the state of mind to commit murder or is it a case of manslaughter.

Justice London-Weinstein went to great lengths to explain the methodology used to determine her verdict.

“If I accept the evidence presented by the accused or finish my review and left in a state of doubt, then I have no choice but to acquit,” she said. “A verdict must not come down to a choice between the accused and the Crown’s evidence. Rather it must be based on the whole of the evidence and the onus is on the prosecution to present evidence that is beyond any reasonable doubt and it must not be placed on the accused to prove his innocence.”

Lamoureux Testimony Reliable

Mr. Huckabone and Mr. Poff-Smith went against conventional wisdom and allowed Mr. Lamoureux to testify on his behalf, a decision used sparingly by most defence attorneys. When he entered the witness box, he did not resemble the man arrested for murder in 2021. At that time, the accused admitted he was addicted to illegal narcotics and recounted how he ingested 10 methamphetamine pills on the day of the murder. That was in addition to smoking cannabis-filled bongs throughout the day and consuming alcohol. At times his speech was rapid and scattered when interviewed by the OPP. His ragged hair was dyed blond and his gaunt physical appearance resembled that of a longtime drug user.

When he testified before the court in February, and when seated in the prisoner’s box on Monday, his natural dark hair that extended down to his chest was neatly combed to one side and his face was no longer gaunt. He was clean-shaven and his dollar-sign ($) tattoo on his cheek was visible.

Justice London-Weinstein made note of this transformation throughout her ruling.

“He had a troubled childhood and he and his two brothers were fed drugs by their father at a very young age and were placed in foster care until he left school while in Grade 10,” she said. “His criminal record includes multiple convictions of fraud and he regrets those actions and admits he committed the crimes to feed his drug addiction.

“He remains sober and despite his lack of formal education, he was a coherent and articulate witness and his intelligence was apparent, especially during cross-examination (by Mr. Bocking) when he answered the prosecution’s questions without resorting to arguments or denial of the obvious.”

She challenged some of his testimony, including stabbing the wall incident with Mr. Rumleskie. The accused described it as “just trying to scare Junior since he was doing nothing wrong.” Justice London-Weinstein described it as discreditable conductand a major over-reaction, signaling his ability to act irrationally.

Like many accused who face prosecutorial cross-examination, he faced an aggressive series of questions from Mr. Bocking. He questioned his statement to the OPP he believed the victim had a knife in his right hand prior to punching him, referring to the video and other witness accounts noting the victim allegedly held something in his left hand. Mr. Lamoureux believed it was the right hand because he was describing him while looking straight ahead.

Mr. Bocking challenged the accused over his sworn statement to police when he failed to mention he punched Mr. Rumleskie first and knocked him to the ground seconds before he was stabbed.

Justice London-Weinstein accepted Mr. Lamoureux’s testimony regarding which hand he believed Mr. Rumleskie held a knife as reasonable but she had doubt as to Mr. Lamoureux’s claim he forgot about throwing the first punch until he reviewed the video footage.

After three days of testimony in February, he exited the witness box with an overall image of a sober and remorseful man. His composed testimony increased the likelihood of reasonable doubt, especially when compared to the testimony of the Crown’s key witness.

Blackouts and Lies

As previously reported in the Leader throughout September 2023, testimony provided by Mr. Plumb and Ms. Dombroskie was filled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies. Over the course of four days, Mr. Plumb faced a meticulous and relentless cross-examination by both defence attorneys.

There were several instances when Mr. Plumb would state he suffered complete blackouts in times of distress and could not remember specific and crucial incidents due to his diagnosis of ADHD. Justice London-Weinstein found his testimony unreliable.

“Mr. Plumb testified he may have stabbed the victim while in an ADHD blackout,” she said. “I find Mr. Plumb to be neither reliable nor credible.”

She recalled Mr. Plumb told Barry Pepper, a motel resident who testified Mr. Plumb admitted to him he may have accidently stabbed the victim while restraining him, yet she pointed out Mr. Plumb accused Mr. Lamoureux of putting the knife in his pocket and told him to lie to the police. She found Mr. Pepper far more credible than Mr. Plumb.

She described his statement he put the knife in Ms. Dombroskie’s bag, without warning her as completely unbelievable.

She said his testimony that he put the knife in the bag to make it easy for police to discover was also unbelievable. She said he lied so many times to police that it raised many doubts when he told the police Mr. Lamoureux put the knife in his pocket and intimidated him with stories of past murder and abduction.

“I reject Mr. Plumb’s statement as he failed to tell the police it was his knife and he only did so after prompting from the Crown. This is in addition to the fact it was his DNA on the knife along with the victim, but no traceable DNA belonging to Mr. Lamoureux was found.”

She also accused him of lying when he told the court he heard Mr. Lamoureux say to the victim “why did you make me do it?” His statement was proven false when the court heard an audio recording of the 911 call and Mr. Lamoureux can be heard in the background on another phone requesting help at the exact time Mr. Plumb claims he heard the statement.

In addition, she rejected his testimony when he told police he threw the murder weapon over the motel roof and he demonstrated to them his throwing motion. However, during the altercation, the camera, along with other witness testimony, documented him reaching down to the ground attempting to lift something up, but at no time did he make the throwing gesture prior to his interview with the police.

“This is the mark of a witness who will go the extra step to elaborate an untruth,” she said.

Lies Under Oath

When the Leader reported on the October court proceedings with Ms. Dombroskie providing testimony, the most shocking aspect of the trial surfaced when she admitted on the stand she knowingly lied to the police and lied while under oath.

In the first instance, she neglected to tell the police her mother was present on July 21, 2021, when the stabbing occurred. Neither she nor Mr. Lamoreaux mentioned this fact in their initial statements to police. It was only months later she recanted and tried to justify her willful omission that she was trying to protect her mother.

In a separate instance, she claimed to have a poor memory, but months after the incident she presented police with the knife Mr. Plumb hid in her bag. She told police she had no idea it was in there or it might be the knife being sought.

A third lie she was forced to admit to was her false allegation she heard Mr. Lamoureux say to the fatally wounded Mr. Rumleskie, “why did you make me do it?” She claimed to hear him utter those words at the exact same time Mr. Plumb claimed he heard him. Although she stated “I don’t remember” countless times when being questioned in the witness box while telling the lawyers her memory was terrible, she was able to recall many months later the exact time she allegedly heard that statement.

The camera was documenting the incident and at no time is Mr. Lamoureux heard making that statement when she claimed he had.

However, the lie that apparently shocked Justice London-Weinstein occurred following a lunch break during one of her trial appearances. Mr. Poff-Smith asked her if she had any contact with Mr. Plumb despite a court-ordered non-contact order with him.

She replied she had not.

He asked her if she went to the Pita Shack for lunch that day and she replied in the affirmative.

“I want you to consider very hard your answer to my next question,” he said to her. “Did you have any contact with Jordan Plumb over the lunch hour?”

She took a few seconds and stated Mr. Plumb drove by the Pita Shack and said ‘hello’ and asked how she was doing and she said ‘hello’ back.

Mr. Poff asked if anything else was said and told her a police investigator was across the street and witnessed the encounter.

Knowing she was caught in a lie, she confessed to speaking with him, but argued she did not initiate the brief discussion and she reasoned it was not a real contact.

“Ms. Dombroskie is neither a credible nor reliable witness,” Justice London-Weinstein said. “Her evidence changed and shifted with the telling of the incident. She lied repeatedly to the court and she misled police. The evidence of both Ms. Dombroskie and Mr. Plumb when taken as part of the whole of the evidence could not be relied on to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Video Not Conclusive

In reading her conclusions, her final section dealt with the prosecution’s insistence a review of the video would clear up any doubt as to Mr. Lamoureux’s guilt.

“I repeatedly reviewed the video of the fight and I find that I am unable to satisfy a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” she said. “The video is of grainy quality and the images are small. Details are obscure and no knife could be seen. The image is obscured by parked vehicles and there is a critical point when Mr. Plumb pushed the victim against a car and I cannot determine if the accused ran into the room and grabbed a knife as has been alleged.

“As well, the motel door does not appear to be open and there were only a few seconds for Mr. Lamoureux to run to the door and get inside to find the knife, it is very unlikely, although Mr. Plumb claims the knife was used.”

She referenced the coroner’s report stating with the entry wound to Mr. Rumleskie’s abdomen it would be unlikely Mr. Lamoureux made the fatal blow when he shoved the victim and the video recording shows the only time he was close enough to inflict the wound was when the accused shoved him to the ground.

Perry Mason Moment

The Perry Mason show was a popular 1950s TV show famous for its “Perry Mason Moment.” It occurred whenever information was unexpectedly (to most present), and often dramatically, introduced into the record that changed the perception of the proceedings greatly and often influences the outcome.

Justice London-Weinstein ushered in such a moment when she said the evidence was circumstantial in nature and all factors resulted in a finding of not guilty due to reasonable doubt. Most interestingly, she proposed the possibility a different individual may have delivered the fatal blow.

“In my view it is not an unreasonable inference that Mr. Plumb may have accidently stabbed the victim using his own knife,” she said. “He owns the knife; the knife bears his DNA and it does not contain the DNA of the accused. Dr. Milroy did state that the wound could have been caused by someone approaching from behind holding the knife in the left hand could cause the stab wound.”

She said Mr. Plumb sprayed a substance into the eyes of someone threatening his brothers and given his proven protective nature of Ms. Dombroskie, it is not unreasonable to suggest he harboured resentment to Mr. Rumleskie for calling his girlfriend vulgar names.

“It is not unreasonable to suggest Mr. Plumb armed himself with his own knife to protect his girlfriend and her mother. Given the fact Mr. Plumb stated he may have accidentally stabbed the victim during a blackout in an ADHD state, leaves me with even greater doubt as to what actually occurred in this case. And for all of the above named reasons, I have found that the Crown has not proven the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, he is found not guilty and the charges are dismissed.”

When the Clerk declared the matter was closed, Mr. Bocking requested 15 Fellowes High School students who attended the hearing to exit the courtroom and to meet outside for a recap of the trial. They are enrolled in a law course and requested seating for this hearing.

Mr. Bocking requested not to be quoted at this time.

Mr. Huckabone and Mr. Poff-Smith spoke briefly with their client and informed the Leader Mr. Lamoureux did not wish to comment at this time. He was led out of the building away from the main entrance.

When the Leader asked Mr. Huckabone what the next step for his client is, he provided a simple answer.

“He is not celebrating today, despite gaining his freedom after nearly three years in jail,” he said. “He recognizes this is a tragedy and a man lost his life. Right now, Mr. Lamoureux is going to try and get his life back and move on.”