UPDATE: Niemi gets life in prison
Amanda Watson, centre, is pictured with her daughter, Alana, right, and a friend as they leave Barrie court Friday after Roy Niemi was convicted of the first-degree murder of Amanda's daughter, Alyssa Watson, 20. Her body was discovered in Orillia in August 2006. (TRACY MCLAUGHLIN, Special to QMI Agency)
WARNING: This article contains graphic information. Reader discretion is advised.
That’s the word that comes to Amanda Watson’s mind when she looks at the man who was convicted of the first-degree murder and mutilation of her daughter.
Standing in the prisoner’s box, with waist-length hair, Roy Niemi didn’t bat an eye as a jury found him guilty Friday afternoon after deliberating for only 24 hours — unusually brief for a murder case. But as he was taken away in handcuffs, he could be heard kicking, banging and screaming obscenities.
But the judge had no sympathy for his fate of spending the rest of his life in prison.
“Your crime was sickening and deplorable with horrendously tragic consequences,” Justice Cary Boswell said as he sentenced Niemi to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. “You are not only a sadistic murderer; you are a thief. You stole a mother from her young children. You stole a daughter, a sister, a friend.”
Niemi, 34, was convicted of killing Alyssa Watson, 20, of Orillia. Her battered and half-naked body was found in the bushes off a nature trail in Orillia Aug. 19, 2006. She had been strangled to death. Then, after she was dead, she had been cut from her throat to her groin and one of her breasts was sliced.
“You are a sick, twisted and sadistic killer. Your motives for doing what you did will forever remain a mystery to me,” the judge continued. “As you strangled the precious life from Alyssa, one wonders what you were thinking. Did you think of her two young children, sleeping in their beds, wondering why their mother didn’t come home that night?”
During the trial, the jury listened to the story of how police, lacking evidence to charge Niemi with murder, conducted an elaborate undercover operation often referred to as a “Mr. Big” operation, where officers posed as members of a lucrative criminal gang. They tempted him with easy money, fancy cars, drives in limousines, fancy Toronto hotels and they called him “brother.”
After several months in the Hollywood-style act, the fictitious “boss” eventually convinced Niemi to divulge how he strangled Watson. That confession was secretly recorded and was played in court.
“Why did you cut her up?” the boss asked as he strutted around an upscale Toronto hotel suite.
“Just to throw the police off,” Niemi replied.
Amanda Watson sat through the trial every day, often bowing her head and holding back tears as the man who sat across from her in the prisoner’s box could be heard divulging his sordid secret of how he killed her daughter.
Sometimes, she had to leave the courtroom.
“I felt dirty being in the same room,” she said once.
But she refused to weep in the courtroom.
“I don’t want him to see me cry,” she said.
Listening to the confession, which was played several times in the courtroom, was “horrific,” she said.
“I have never experienced evil before,” she said. “But listening to what he did to my daughter, I know I was face to face with evil when I looked at him… His evil has touched all of our lives.”
She said her daughter’s two young children were just toddlers when Watson was murdered and they couldn’t understand where their mother was or why she didn’t come home.
She and Watson’s sister are now raising the children.
“They know about the bad man who took their mommy away from them,” Amanda Watson said outside of court, her eyes reddened with tears.
She described her daughter as sometimes problematic, but kind, with a big heart.
“But she was very naive and far too trusting,” she said. “I think that’s why Niemi got to her in the first place. …He didn’t just trash her life; he trashed all of our lives and he trashed his own life.”
It troubles her that her daughter believed Niemi was her friend. At first, she didn’t want to believe it. But as the details began to unravel, she knew police had the right man.
“I knew it in my soul. I knew it was him.”
Relieved that the nightmare of the trial is over, Amanda Watson said she was grateful to the police and the justice system for getting a killer off the streets.
“The police, the Crown, the court staff, the detectives — they were all amazing,” she said.
After several months of operating the undercover operation, sometimes working around the clock to try to lure Niemi to a confession, police failed and the operation shut down in 2007. But several months later, the operation started up again with a new player to act as the crime boss who might have a better rapport with Niemi. It worked.
Niemi’s father, Gair Niemi, was convicted of the murder of a young college student who was killed with a roofer’s hammer in 1992. He died in prison of a reported heart attack in 1997.