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Massicotte second-degree murder trial opens in court

Jonathan Massicotte is accused in the death of 32-year-old William Wapoose, whose body was found in the Chapples Park area in September 2014.

THUNDER BAY - Nearly eight years after the body of 32-year-old William Wapoose was discovered in the Chapples Park area, one of the two accused in his murder is now standing trial.

The second-degree murder trial against Jonathan Massicotte opened before Justice Tracey Nieckarz and a jury in a Thunder Bay Courtroom on Monday. This is the first criminal jury trial to be held in the city of Thunder Bay since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jury selection took place last week and Massicotte pleaded not guilty to the charge of second-degree murder.

Wapoose’s body was found by a passerby the morning of Sept. 3, 2014 near a bike path at the south end of Chapple’s Park Drive.

Massicotte was arrested in May 2019 and initially charged with first-degree murder, along with a second accused who was a youth at the time of the offence. The youth is expected to stand trial in October 2022 on the charge of second-degree murder.

In his opening statement on Monday, Crown attorney Trevor Jukes told the jury that Wapoose had been beaten and stabbed and he will be calling numerous witnesses throughout the week.

The first witnesses called included the passerby who discovered Wapoose’s body between 7:30 and 8 a.m. the morning of Sept. 3, 2014, as well as one of the responding paramedics.

According to the passerby who was riding his bike through the area, he noticed discarded candies and a yellow piece of paper along the bike path. Before leaving the park, he returned to see what the piece of paper was and then discovered Wapoose’s body in the tall grass.

“I was standing almost right over him when I noticed him,” he testified. “I saw his feet. I thought it was somebody sleeping it off because of the long weekend. But when I got closer and saw his face I knew the guy wasn’t sleeping.”

One of the first paramedics who attended the scene also testified. She said she and her partner could not engage in any life-saving measures because based on observations, including rigor mortis evident, it was determined Wapoose was already deceased.  

Det. Const. Rob Miller with the Thunder Bay Police Service, who was working in general uniform patrol in September 2014, also testified on Monday.

Miller took the court through scene photos of the area that showed Wapoose on his side in the grass just off the bike path. A large amount of blood was also visible around his face and puncture wounds on his side and back.

Several items were seized by police in the area, including the candies, beer cans, and Wapoose’s health card, status card, and a bank card.

Defense counsel George Joseph will begin his cross-examination of Miller Tuesday morning.

Doug Diaczuk

About the Author: Doug Diaczuk

Doug Diaczuk is a reporter and award-winning author from Thunder Bay. He has a master’s degree in English from Lakehead University
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