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Closing arguments begin in Orillia murder trial

Tracy McLaughlin

By Tracy McLaughlin, Special to Postmedia Network

There is no doubt Roy Niemi is the man who killed and mutilated Alyssa Watson, a Crown attorney told a jury Tuesday.

“He did it,” Ray Williams insisted in his closing arguments following a two-month murder trail now wrapping up in a Barrie courtroom.

“He said he did it and he said it rich in detail.”

Niemi, 34, of Orillia, is on trial, charged with first-degree murder and indignity to the body of 20-year-old Alyssa Watson of Orillia.

Watson, a mother of two, was found strangled and half-naked on a nature trail along Orillia’s waterfront Aug. 19, 2006. Her throat had been slashed and she was cut from her throat down to her abdomen and one breast had been sliced from one side to the other.

The two were friends, “and maybe more,” said Williams, and had met at the Orillia Learning Centre, where they were taking high-school courses.

The last time Watson was seen alive was after her big sister had dropped her off at a local convenience store to meet Niemi at around 9:30 p.m. the night before. Her sister was angry Watson had not returned home that night, shirking her responsibilities as a mother.

“The next day, around dinnertime, came every family’s nightmare,” said Williams. “The police were at the door — Alyssa was dead.”

Niemi was a suspect from the beginning, and when police had him in for questioning, they noticed his disinterest in his friend’s death and asked him why he wasn’t concerned.

“It’s not a real big deal, it’s just a pain in the ass,” Niemi answered.

Police noted he didn’t even ask how his friend was killed.

“That’s because he already knew,” said Williams.

A year later, police set up an elaborate undercover operation, often referred to as a “Mr. Big” operation, where undercover officers pretended to be part of a criminal underworld gang. The key officer, who cannot be identified, was enrolled at the Learning Centre, where he befriended Niemi.

The two became buddies, and the undercover introduced Niemi to his fictitious world of fast cars and easy money by transporting stolen goods or dealing in debit-card schemes. He introduced Niemi to poker games — all set up with undercover officers — and, eventually, he introduced Niemi to “the boss.”

After several meetings in various hotel rooms in the Toronto area on the way to and from “jobs,” the boss pretended his “people” knew Niemi was a suspect in a murder and he wanted Niemi to tell him the details.

For months, Niemi denied any involvement and became outright angry with the suggestion he might be the killer.

After several months, the operation failed and was shut down. A year later, police took a second crack, reunited Niemi with the same undercover officer and the pot was sweetened with bigger money. In another meeting, the boss told Niemi he wanted him to become an official member of the “family” and promised to get a man already in prison to take the rap for the murder so police would get off Niemi’s back.

“I can take care of this for ya — we have ways, if you know what I mean,” the boss promised in a Hollywood kind of performance.

After several attempts to get Niemi to talk, he admitted to the murder — all while being secretly videotaped in the hotel room.

“I hit her with a whiskey bottle. Then I choked the sh-- out of her,” Niemi said as he acted out how he did it by wrapping his arm around the boss’s neck.

Bit by bit, he revealed the other details of how he cut Watson up with a knife.

“Why didn’t you tell us before? Were ya scared?” asked the boss.

“No, I was more ashamed,” said Niemi, who said it’s OK to kill a man — “anybody can do that” — but not women or children. “Now I gotta live with that.”

In court, the Crown told the jury the reason Niemi held back his confession for so long was because he knew what he had done to Watson was horrible.

“Niemi kept his mouth shut… he was ashamed... because of the creepy nature of what he did,” Williams said. “It was detestable and deplorable.”

Williams noted no one but the real killer knew the details of how Watson was cut.

However, Niemi’s defence lawyer, Richard Stern, has a different theory, which will be revealed in his closing arguments to the jury today.

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