Bruce Kayaitok appeals murder conviction in death of Belinda Tootiak
Kugaaruk man was sentenced to life in prison without chance of parole for 15 years
A man from Kugaaruk, Nunavut, is appealing his murder conviction for killing his common-law spouse in 2008.
Bruce Kayaitok was found guilty of second degree murder in 2013 for killing Belinda Tootiak. His appeal was heard Tuesday in Iqaluit.
James Morton, Kayaitok's lawyer, is asking the appeal court to substitute second degree murder with a manslaughter conviction.
At Kayaitok's trial, defence and crown agreed to try to simplify the case and use less court time by not calling witnesses.
"The trial was conducted entirely on paper," said Morton. "There was no live evidence given. Nobody testified. And what Bruce [Kayaitok] says is without hearing from witnesses, you cannot tell what his intent was at the time of the incident."
Morton said he specifically 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.
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.
He attempted to plead guilty to manslaughter but that was rejected by the Crown. He was convicted of second degree murder and is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 15 years.
A manslaughter conviction would mean a shorter prison sentence. Morton says in Nunavut, sentences for manslaughter typically range 12-15 years.
- This story has been updated to correct the name of the victim.Feb 16, 2017 4:01 PM CT
with files from John Van Dusen