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'That rat Aidan got me kicked out': Tanti to Tony's bartender

A bartender at Tony's Billiards was hesitant about Nick Tanti going to Onyx Nightclub the night he was killed

Nick Tanti referred to Aidan Kee as "a rat" multiple times on the night of Feb. 29, 2020 – the day of his fatal stabbing.

This, according to a bartender at a Downtown Guelph pool hall, who testified to the jury Friday in Superior Court in Guelph.

Frank Sampogna was the lone witness of the day, by far the longest time spent on the stand of the 15 people brought up so far during the Aidan and Angus Kee trial.

Sampogna was working at Tony's Billiards that night, along with Jesse Brace, who took the stand Thursday.

Much of the day was spent dissecting video of the incident from multiple angles, trying to figure out the exact positioning of people at the scene, as the events unfolded.

He said his interactions with Tanti that night started around 10 p.m., when Tanti called the bar.

"He was joking around, trying to make me laugh," Sampogna said. "And then he just said 'I just called to see if you're working, I wanna come see you' and he showed up at the bar."

He told the jury Tanti was served a rum and coke when he arrived, and about an hour later, a group of his friends were leaving to head to the Onyx Nightclub.

Sampogna said he had previous conversations about an incident on Jan. 11 that led to Tanti, among others, being banned from the club. However, he was not aware Tanti wasn't allowed back at Onyx.

"I just knew there was an issue there a couple months prior, that he was slightly involved in," he said.

Sampogna responded he thought it wasn't a good idea to go, describing the interaction as acting as kind of a "big brother," with Tanti saying "you're right, I probably shouldn't go."

Tanti did leave, but came back "pretty quick" after what turned out to be his ejection from Onyx.

"I said 'what happened,' and he said 'that rat Aidan got me kicked out,'" Sampogna said, noting Tanti seemed a little worked up at this point.

In response, Sampogna said he told Tanti not to worry about it and to stay at Tony's.

He confirmed the term "rat" was used by Tanti to refer to Aidan before he left for Onyx as well, but it wasn't specified to the court when that was.

Nonetheless, he said Tanti was social with other people at Tony's when he got back, played some pool and then went to sit at a table right in front of the front window with a woman named Jackie.

Later, Sampogna noticed Tanti "run out from the bar" but wasn't paying too much attention to it.

When Tanti returned inside without a shirt, the bartender didn't think much of that either.

"He was always doing silly things," Sampogna said. "I thought he was doing push ups with his shirt off, because he's known to do that."

He went outside, and that's where he said he saw both Kee brothers, rummaging through something he thought was a backpack on the ground.

"Aidan and Angus got very defensive, and I was a little shocked, 'cause I was unsure of what had happened," he testified, noting both jumped up and were "yelling at the same time."

That's when Sampogna was told Tanti had "jumped" Aidan, and that Tanti punched him in the eye.

He said the two were rambling on about Tanti and wanted to go into the bar, but Sampogna and Brace didn't allow them inside.

He said he was able to talk Aidan down a bit — "have some respect, you work in a bar as well, you know what it's like, just calm down" — but Aidan asked for Tanti.

Video of inside Tony's was shown to Sampogna. Defense lawyer James Milgin spent some time breaking down a certain pointing gesture as the two were walking back in, telling Tanti that Aidan was wanting to speak to him.

In the video, Tanti could be seen going outside, which is when the second altercation began.

"Looked like Aidan and Nick wrestling, or like a hockey fight, grabbing each other" Sampogna said, adding he called for assistance from Tanti's friend.

The fight, he said, spilled off the sidewalk and he noticed blood on the ground, but wasn't sure where it came from.

"I don't see anyone with a broken nose," he said.

Eventually, Tanti stumbled back onto the sidewalk, lifted his shirt and "his whole chest was covered in blood."

He said someone said "why did you do that Kees," but thought Tanti was punched with a key, not knowing Aidan's last name.

A group of people tended to Tanti, who collapsed in the doorway. Sampogna recalled Aidan saying "what the fuck did you think was going to happen?" before leaving.

Video at the scene shows the Kee brothers leaving quickly, and the timing of the phrase was questioned by Milgin.

However, Sampogna emphasized a couple times on the stand that Aidan used the exact phrase after Tanti was brought to the doorway area.

Aidan, the older brother, faces a second-degree murder charge, while Angus is accused of unlawful act manslaughter and accessory after the fact manslaughter.

The trial continues Tuesday morning.

Mark Pare

About the Author: Mark Pare

Mark is a graduate of Canadore College in North Bay in 2011, and his decade-long career has taken him to a number of spots across Ontario in radio, digital and television broadcasting.
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