Sentencing hearing postponed for Behchokǫ̀ man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter

·3 min read
Colton Migwi's lawyer, Peter Harte, told the court that Migwi doesn't agree to the psychiatric assessment. He said he's worried the crown could use it to ask for a longer sentence.  (Natalie Pressman/CBC - image credit)
Colton Migwi's lawyer, Peter Harte, told the court that Migwi doesn't agree to the psychiatric assessment. He said he's worried the crown could use it to ask for a longer sentence. (Natalie Pressman/CBC - image credit)

The sentencing hearing for Colton Migwi, the 31-year-old Behchokǫ̀ man charged in relation to the 2020 death of his brother, was postponed this morning in a Yellowknife courtroom.

His brother, Andrew Migwi, was found dead in a home in Behchokǫ̀ on March 7, 2020. Colton Migwi was initially charged with murder, but later pleaded guilty to manslaughter as part of a plea agreement.

Speaking in the Northwest Territories Supreme Court Monday morning, prosecutor Duane Praught requested to postpone the sentencing.

Praught told the court that he needs time to fully review a report that he received from the defence earlier this month. The report is a three-page discharge summary on Migwi prepared by Dr. Anne Pleydon, a clinical psychologist, at the North Slave Correctional Complex.

Praught told the court that it has become apparent — after reviewing health records and the recent report — that Migwi has mental health issues. He's seeking an order for a psychiatric assessment to determine if Migwi can be found not criminally responsible for his brother's death.

Praught asked to "have time to fully review all documents, so the court has a complete picture."

"Should there be an NCR [not criminally responsible finding], it's a public safety issue," he said.

Migwi has history of auditory hallucinations 

Migwi's lawyer, Peter Harte, told the court that Migwi doesn't want to pursue an NCR and will not agree to a psychiatric assessment.

"He doesn't want to end up in a mental health facility," said Harte. "And it may justify the crown asking for a longer sentence on the basis of public safety."

Harte told the court that Migwi's records do show that he has a history of auditory hallucinations, and he has heard voices telling him to "kill, kill, kill."

"[But] there's no evidence that they're voices he's not able to manage," said Harte. Or that "he ever acted on them."

Harte questioned how the crown would be able to find Migwi not criminally responsible, without his willingness to participate in the assessment.

He said that Migwi would continue to take his medications and participate in any psychiatric evaluations considered warranted.

And he requested that Migwi, who has been in custody for 124 days, be sentenced to "two years less a day."

If approved, Migwi would be able to remain in the North and avoid being sent to a federal institution.

The court agreed to meet again on Aug. 16 at 10 a.m.

"This is not going to be a sentencing hearing," said Supreme Court Justice Andrew Mahar. He noted that the August court hearing would determine whether or not Migwi would be ordered to undergo a psychiatric assessment.

"If it's not an order, we'll proceed with sentencing," said Mahar.

Praught said the Crown had not yet decided whether or not they will seek an NCR.

"At this point, we're seeking a [psychiatric] assessment," he said.

"We'll wait to receive further information to determine whether or not we think Mr. Migwi is unsafe."

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