Escaped Whitehorse youth offender returns to N.W.T where he faces 2nd-degree murder charge

A close-up of the sign on the side of the courthouse in Whitehorse. (Jackie Hong/CBC - image credit)
A close-up of the sign on the side of the courthouse in Whitehorse. (Jackie Hong/CBC - image credit)

A teen accused of pulling a knife on a guard and escaping the Whitehorse youth offender facility last month is being returned to the Northwest Territories where he's awaiting trial for second-degree murder.

The teen was among the inmates brought to Whitehorse during Yellowknife's wildfire-related evacuation last month and faces five charges in relation to the incident at the facility, including prison break, assault with a weapon and mischief.

He made a video appearance in Whitehorse territorial court Friday where the Crown and defence discussed which territory he should be incarcerated in.

While now legally an adult, the teen faces a number of charges in the N.W.T. that were laid against him as a youth, including one count of second-degree murder in relation to a 2022 death in Fort Smith. CBC News is not naming him as a result.

In the Yukon, according to court documents and discussions during his court appearance, the teen is accused of breaking out of his cell at the Whitehorse youth offender facility on Aug. 22, pulling a "home-made knife" on a guard, breaking a fire alarm which unlocked other cells and starting a "riot" before escaping with another youth.

The incident triggered a manhunt that included the Yukon RCMP's police dog service and emergency response team, who were able to locate both inmates.

The Crown and defence agreed on Friday for the teen to be brought back to a facility in the N.W.T., and that he could make his next court appearance on the Yukon charges by video from there. A chartered flight was scheduled to leave from the Yukon to the N.W.T. that afternoon, though it wasn't immediately clear if the teen ended up on that flight and if other inmates from the N.W.T. were being transported home as well.

In an email, Yukon justice department spokesperson Fiona Azizaj confirmed that six "clients" were transferred to Yukon correctional facilities in August due to "emergency wildfire." However, she declined to provide any other details, including which facilities the inmates stayed at or when they were transferred back, citing privacy and protection reasons.