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Pressure mounts as crime boss presses for details

Tracy McLaughlin

By Tracy McLaughlin, Special to QMI AGENCY

WARNING: This article contains graphic information. Reader discretion is advised.

As time began to run out on the covert operation, undercover officers who pretended to be part of a criminal organization put pressure on Roy Niemi to divulge details of the murder he claimed he committed, a jury heard Tuesday.

Niemi, 34, who was duped into believing the officers were his friends and that he was part of a lucrative criminal “family,” is nearing the end of his murder trial in Barrie Superior Court.

He is charged with the murder and mutilation of Alyssa Watson, 20, of Orillia, who was found strangled, with her throat cut and her body left half-naked in a wooded area off the Lightfoot nature trail in Orillia Aug. 19 2006.

On a secretly recorded video played in court, the jury has watched as Niemi admitted that he killed Watson, but he insisted he only strangled her and gave no details of horrific injuries that were made to her body after she was already dead — details the police kept out of the media. Instead, Niemi repeated dozens of times over a period of days — all captured on video — that he only hit Watson over the head, then strangled her and left her on the trail.

But the crime boss threatened to cut Niemi out of the criminal organization if he didn’t offer more.

“I can’t open up my organization to this liability,” said the boss, sitting in a comfortable hotel suite with Niemi and another undercover officer.

He promised Niemi “his guy” in prison would take blame for the murder and his family would be paid most of the $50,000 reward money being offered by the OPP while Niemi would get paid $5,000.

“My guy is ready to go,” the boss said, “but he’s gotta convince the cops. I need more.”

“I’m trying, but I can’t remember,” Niemi insisted.

“Well, this is not enough,” the boss said in an angry tone. “You haven’t told me anything that isn’t already in the newspapers… Are you sure you did this? Or are you just telling me you did it so you can work for me?”

“No, I did it,” Niemi answered. “I’ve been going over it thousands of times, but I can’t remember anything else.”

“Did you rape her or anything?” the boss asked.

“No,” Niemi responded.

“Did you cut her? Like, cut her head off or anything?” the boss pressed.

“No, I just did it and got outta there,” Niemi answered.

Then, with a little chuckle, he added, “You don’t hang around after you go to the bathroom, do ya?”

“Well, the cops aren’t gonna believe my guy,” said the boss.

“I don’t really believe it myself,” Niemi answered.

“What do you mean you don’t believe it?” the boss asked.

“I just don’t believe that I could do it. Just the mindset,” he answered. “…I’ve spent the last three years trying to forget it.”

The boss then confided that he, too, once committed a murder.

“I remember every detail… but I tell you, when it’s dealt with, it will be like a big weight off your shoulders,” he said. “You can trust us, man. You know we’re like brothers.”

Sitting in the room with them, the undercover friend pleaded with Niemi to remember more details or they would both be out of the organization that promised to make them both rich men.

“Come on man. I need this,” the officer said. “I need it bad… I just wanna make a pile of money.”

By the end of the video, the boss offered Niemi one last chance to remember more details. Niemi promised to try to retrieve a pink cellphone that belonged to Watson that he claimed to have mailed off to Alberta.

“You got the whole organization behind you,” the boss promised.

As the three men parted, the boss hugged each one and slapped them on the back.

The trial continues today.

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