Dispute over facts delays manslaughter sentencing for 2020 stabbing, again

An RCMP vehicle in Esgenoôpetitj First Nation where a 34-year-old Christopher Dedam was stabbed to death in 2020. (Gail Harding/CBC - image credit)
An RCMP vehicle in Esgenoôpetitj First Nation where a 34-year-old Christopher Dedam was stabbed to death in 2020. (Gail Harding/CBC - image credit)

A sentencing hearing for a woman who fatally stabbed a man in 2020 was delayed for the second time in as many months because her lawyer and Crown prosecutors didn't agree on what she was admitting.

"I think the relationship between the two sides is in need of a cooling off period," Court of King's Bench Justice Fred Ferguson said of the lawyers on Thursday.

Ferguson had been scheduled to sentence Nikita Marie Dedam of Esgenoôpetitj First Nation.

Dedam was originally set to stand trial last year on a charge of second-degree murder but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter. She admits fatally stabbing 34-year-old Christopher Dedam in Esgenoôpetitj on Aug. 25, 2020.

But it was the details of the incident that have twice delayed her sentencing in Miramichi.

Nikita Dedam/Twitter
Nikita Dedam/Twitter

Ferguson convicted Dedam in August based on an agreed statement of facts Crown prosecutor Melanie Rose MacAulay said she would elaborate on during the sentencing hearing.

Defence lawyer Alison Ménard said in November, when the sentencing was originally supposed to take place, that the details the Crown wanted to add weren't accepted by Dedam.

"I was upset that day," Ferguson said about the previous delay. "It's not a speeding case, it's a homicide case."

Ferguson then outlined a "flurry" of emails between the lawyers in the days and hours before he walked into the courtroom that showed they hadn't been able to settle the issue.

The judge at times expressed frustration, admonishing them for not sorting out the issues over the past two months.

"When it's manslaughter, it's top priority," he said.

The sides reached an agreement shortly before noon, but Ferguson said he wouldn't have enough time to finish the sentencing because he had other cases scheduled Thursday afternoon.

The sentencing is now scheduled to take place Feb. 27.

Stabbed in heart

The newly agreed facts were not read out loud in court. The previous summary say the victim had been sending and posting disparaging comments about Dedam and her then-boyfriend on Facebook in the days before his death.

Dedam and her boyfriend were driving by the victim's home early on Aug. 25 when she jumped out of the vehicle and approached the victim on his porch.

A fight ensued that moved inside and into a bathroom.

Christopher Dedam struck her with a metal pole on the face. She grabbed an item in the bathroom and stabbed him in the chest. It wasn't clear what the item was. Prosecutors told the judge Thursday it was never recovered.

After the stabbing, they both fled the house. He eventually collapsed outside the home and died.

An autopsy determined he died of a single stab wound to the heart.