Nikita Dedam sentenced to 9 years in prison for fatal stabbing

New Brunswick RCMP Major Crime Unit at the scene of the fatal stabbing of Christopher Dedam in August of 2020. (Gail Harding/CBC - image credit)
New Brunswick RCMP Major Crime Unit at the scene of the fatal stabbing of Christopher Dedam in August of 2020. (Gail Harding/CBC - image credit)

A woman is facing nine years in prison for fatally stabbing 34-year-old Christopher Dedam.

Nikita Marie Dedam, 36, of Esgenoôpetitj First Nation was originally set to stand trial last year on a charge of second-degree murder but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

On Monday, Justice Fred Ferguson sentenced her to 11 years, minus time served, for killing Chris Dedam in Esgenoôpetitj on Aug. 25, 2020.

Over the course of the sentencing hearing on Monday, Justice Ferguson said it's difficult to balance Nikita Dedam's life circumstances — the abuse she experienced from family, leaving home before she was 12 and her addiction to alcohol since she was 11 — with her lengthy and violent criminal record.

She was previously convicted of five offences, three of which involved stabbing two men at different times in her life.

"As blunt an instrument as the imposition of a lengthy term of imprisonment is, it remains, given Ms. Dedam's criminal record … the only tool left in the trial judge's toolbox to try to protect the public from recurrent behaviour," Ferguson said before handing down the sentence.

Nikita Dedam/Twitter
Nikita Dedam/Twitter

As the Crown prosecutor was outlining her criminal record, Dedam spoke up and said these convictions involved domestic abuse, and she fears they're being twisted against her.

Justice Ferguson said the sentence will be for this case alone, but he has to take her past into consideration.

"The fact that they're stabbings ... is used to get a complete picture of who you are as a person," he said.

Ferguson said a letter sent to him by Dedam explaining her remorse and all the mistakes she made "resonated" with him, and he understands the difficulty faced by Indigenous offenders.

In her letter, Dedam wrote that a big mistake she made was changing her treatment plan to be closer to home, to move back to Esgenoôpetitj.

"The need to feel a connection with people I knew was greater than the chance of me relapsing, which happened when I moved back," she wrote.

"I'm guilty for taking [Chris Dedam] away from his family and now his children will grow up without a father. I couldn't imagine the pain his family is going through because of me. This guilt is something I'm going to have to live with for the rest of my life."

A 7-minute altercation

The Crown and defence, after disagreeing and delaying sentencing twice before, have agreed on the basic facts of the case.

On Aug. 24 and 25, Chris Dedam was using social media to taunt Nikita's then-partner Bernard Robichaud and invite him to fight.

In driving around over those two days, the couple had to pass by Chris's house, where he flashed them the middle finger.

Finally, at around 4 a.m. on Aug. 25, the couple again drove by the house and saw Chris giving them the middle finger. Dedam asked her partner to stop the car or she'd jump out. Robichaud testified Dedam was drunk, angry and wanted to fight Chris.

Dedam then went up to Chris's house. He was outside on the porch and was trying to kick her away. She then followed him inside, Robichaud testified.

Inside, Chris ended up in the bathroom, Dedam was outside the bathroom, and another resident was standing between them.

The Crown and defence both agree that Chris had a pipe and hit Nikita in the face with it. Nikita then somehow produced a weapon and stabbed him once in the chest before leaving.

Video evidence and eye-witness testimony showed that this all happened within seven minutes, the court heard.

The Crown and defence agree that it is not known what the weapon was, where it came from or where it ended up. The police recovered the pipe, but not the sharp object Dedam used to stab Chris.

Defence lawyer Alison Menard said Dedam could not have had the weapon on her when she left the car because she was wearing a thin jumpsuit that had no pockets.

Chris was yelling that he was stabbed, but Robichaud said he thought he was exaggerating. Police photographs of the scene show very little blood, and the autopsy found that he died after the weapon lacerated his heart and caused the sack around his heart to fill with fluid.

A bystander did call 911, Menard said, but was intoxicated and was not able to give the dispatcher enough details. Police arrived on the street, saw nothing and continued on. Chris was not found until 10 a.m., about five hours after he was stabbed.

The defence and Crown agree that Chris had a significant amount of methamphetamine in his system. And that Dedam was also significantly impaired with alcohol and cocaine.

After Dedam left the house, she and her partner went to a bar and continued to drink. She told three people she had "beat up" and stabbed Chris. She changed her story once she saw police at his house — learned that he had died — and denied knowing anything about it, Menard said.

Chris's family was in court to witness the sentencing Monday. Justice Fred Ferguson expressed condolences.

"No case can bring Chris Dedam back to life," he said. "I'm sure that he's the loved one who is dearly missed by all of you, never mind the six children that he leaves behind."