Nunavut court dismisses Bruce Kayaitok murder conviction appeal

A panel of three Nunavut judges has dismissed Bruce Kayaitok's appeal of his conviction for second degree murder for killing his spouse, Belinda Tootiak.

The Court of Appeal also rejected his appeal of his life sentence with no chance of parole for 15 years.

Kayaitok had been in an on-again off-again relationship with Tootiak for 14 years. It was an abusive relationship and after an argument in June 2008, Kayaitok killed his partner by stabbing her in the belly twice with a broken mop handle.

He attempted to plead guilty to manslaughter but that was rejected by the Crown. He was convicted of second degree murder in 2013.

His appeal was heard in February. Kayaitok's lawyer challenged the trial judge's decision on three grounds: that it was a mistake to consider Kayaitok's past conduct, a mistake to consider his actions after the incident, and that there was a lack of expert testimony on Tootiak's wounds.

The court rejected all three arguments.

The court also rejected an appeal of Kayaitok's sentence based on an argument that the trial judge had failed to implement Gladue principles in sentencing, where the background of an Indigenous offender is considered.

The appeal judges said the trial judge had reviewed Kayaitok's background but recognized that even under Gladue, appropriate sentences for serious, violent offences don't differ between Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders.

"There is no rational basis to conclude that the parole-ineligibility reduction sought by the appellant for this brutal and horrific crime would qualify as a fit sentence," ruled the appeal court.