Niemi repeatedly denies killing Watson
A secretly recorded video of a fictitious mob boss — who was actually an undercover police officer trying to lure a suspect into a murder confession — was played to a jury on Tuesday.
The video, which was played in court for several hours, was just one scene of the elaborate undercover operation used to try to catch a killer.
Now on trial, Roy Niemi, 34, is charged with first-degree murder and indignity to a body in the death of Alyssa Watson, 20, of Orillia.
The young mother of two was found partially naked in the bushes off a nature trail strangled, with her throat cut and her body slashed from her throat to her groin on Aug. 19, 2006.
A year later, stumped with no proof that points to the killer, police set up the elaborate scheme known as a “Mr. Big” operation, which started with an undercover officer befriending him. Their conversations were secretly recorded and played in court to the jury.
At first, the players in the act work to gain Niemi’s trust, paying him $100 in cash to work as a back-up man to keep watch as his undercover friend exchanged packages at the Orillia Square Mall.
But soon the ante is upped, and a more lucrative scam involving credit cards promised to pay out thousands of dollars.
But first, Niemi is invited to meet the organization's Big Boss and become a member of 'the family'.
In court, the jury watched a video of the meeting that was secretly recorded by a hidden camera at a hotel suite at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto.
“We’ve heard good things about you,” says the boss, a large man dressed in black. “You got potential.”
Sitting at a table with his arms folded, he tells Niemi that honesty is the main rule in 'the family'. The boss goes on to say his inside sources know he had something to do with the murder of Watson and he wants Niemi to fess up.
“If you’re not straight up with me, I can find out,” says the boss, who then promises to help him. “I can make this go away for you, but you gotta be honest. I need details.”
“I don’t know anything about it, I tell you,” Niemi says. “I was with her for an hour that night and then she left with two guys.”
But the boss persists.
“You gotta be f---ing straight up with me. I can fix this problem, but I need as much info as you can tell me. … I don’t want to get a call and find out later.”
For hours Niemi insists he knows nothing, until he becomes frustrated and exasperated.
“I told you, I don’t f---ing know anything,” says Niemi, who says the police have had him in for questioning and also broke into his apartment looking for evidence but didn’t find anything.
But the boss doesn’t buy his story.
“I don’t care if you killed the bitch, but I need you to be honest with me.”
Niemi appears to be struggling with his memory, he says he met with Watson the night she was killed and saw her leave with two guys. He says he then went home at about 11:15 that night.
He tells the boss he believes he is being “set up” for the murder by either the cops, or some bikers who were involved in a murder that his father was part of years ago.
His father was convicted of murdering a young college student and late died in prison.
“I think I’m being set up,” he says.
“I don’t want to lose you,” says the boss. “But don’t blow smoke up my ass.”
“I’m not lying,” insists Niemi. “If I knew anything I would tell you … maybe you can get someone to find out?”
After hours of grilling and getting nothing, the boss threatens to cut Niemi out of the lucrative organization.
But the grilling doesn’t stop there. Back in the car on the way back to Orillia, Niemi continues to be grilled by his undercover friend, who warns Niemi they stand to lose “big money” and a chance of a lifetime if they are cut out of the operation.
“Hey man, you can tell me, did you do it?”
“No, I didn’t do it,” says Niemi, sounding frustrated. But still the undercover officer persists, asking questions non-stop.
“Maybe you did it and you forget?
“Duya think I would forget something like that?” says Niemi. “I tell you, I don’t know anything about it. I’m getting fed up.”
“Be honest, man,” the officer persists. “The boss can fix this, all you gotta do is f---ing tell him.”
“Dude, I didn’t do it,” says Niemi.
Months later, police start up a second Mr. Big operation, and received a confession on video.
That video will be played to the jury later in the trial.