Arguments close in trial of man accused of murdering Nunavut 12-year-old

·2 min read
The Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit. Closing arguments wrapped up in the trial of a 21-year-old man accused of killing a young boy in Rankin Inlet. (David Gunn/CBC - image credit)
The Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit. Closing arguments wrapped up in the trial of a 21-year-old man accused of killing a young boy in Rankin Inlet. (David Gunn/CBC - image credit)

Closing arguments have wrapped up in the case of a 21-year-old man accused of killing a young boy in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, with both the prosecution and the defence looking to build their cases on whether testimony from a key witness can be considered dependable.

The accused is facing a charge of second-degree murder in connection with the 2017 death of a 12-year-old boy. He's one of two people who were charged with murder following a 15-month police investigation.

The identity of the accused and that of the victim are protected by a publication ban.

Crown prosecutor Paul McDermott told the Nunavut Court of Justice there is no question that the death of the 12-year-old was second-degree murder.

"There could be no doubt whatsoever that whoever hit him 12 times in the head with a rock and stabbed him six times in the torso … intended to kill him," he told Judge Susan Cooper. "That is the only conclusion the court can draw."

McDermott said this is a case built on direct, and not circumstantial, evidence. He said the accused's DNA was found on the victim's pants.

But much of his closing arguments focused on the testimony of a witness who said he had a conversation with the accused, where the accused told him that he killed the young boy.

The identity of that witness was also covered by a publication ban because of his young age at the time of the incident.

McDermott told the court it would be impossible for the witness to know certain details without having had that conversation around the time of the boy's disappearance in 2017. He told the court only the perpetrator would have known those details.

McDermott cited the statement of fact from the pathologist, which was entered as evidence, which said the boy died from blunt force trauma with an object, possibly a rock.

"That's exactly what [the witness] said the [accused] told him," said McDermott. "This is a 16-year-old boy sitting on a porch who gets information about this rock that's exactly the same as a pathologist will say. Nothing was suggested in this trial that he could have got that information from somewhere else."

Defence lawyer Scott Cowan tried to discredit that witness's testimony, questioning the timeline of when the conversation took place, and what he heard.

"He was saying things to you and putting words to [the accused] that he had clearly heard from other people," Cowan said.

He said his evidence could have come from his imagination given his alcohol and drug consumption the night of the alleged conversation.

"This is not a witness upon which you can rely and convict someone," said Cowan.

The parties are scheduled to return to court on Oct. 31, when Cooper said she hopes to have a verdict.