A Fort Good Hope elder's desperate calls for help from RCMP as he witnessed a woman being beaten to death outside his residence were played for a Yellowknife jury on Monday.
Barthy Kotchile was testifying at the trial of a Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., teenager charged with first-degree murder in the death of Charlotte Lafferty. Lafferty, 23, was found beaten to death the morning of March 22, 2014, near the community's seniors' complex.
There is no 911 system in the Northwest Territories. After-hours calls to community RCMP detachments are forwarded to the dispatch centre at the Yellowknife detachment.
Kotchile speaks Slavey, and very little English. A translator assisted him when he testified in court but none was offered when he made the calls that morning.
The elder was looking out his bedroom window at the time, seeing a woman being beaten just metres away.
Kotchile says he first called at about 7 a.m. According to the RCMP, the call was made at 7:17.
'Somebody beating up somebody'
"I want to report somebody beating up somebody outside the old folks' duplex," Kotchile says in the recording.
The dispatcher asks him who is being assaulted.
"He's kicking her in the head," he adds.
"Do you know who it is, yes or no?"
"No, they're outside."
"Who is assaulting him?"
"I don't know, they're outside."
"OK. OK. You don't need to yell. Are they male or female?"
The recording ends.
'Somebody killing somebody over here!'
In another call RCMP say was recorded at 7:24, the dispatcher tells Kotchile he needs to stop hanging up.
"The police are on their way," she says.
"Duplex!" Kotchile says.
"But you need to give me more information," she says. "Is it a guy or a girl fighting?"
"Up behind the duplex!"
"Behind the duplex?"
"Old folks, yeah!"
"And what are they wearing?"
"I don't know, they're outside!"
"Can you hear them?"
Kotchile talks rapidly and loudly, and the dispatcher tells him to stop yelling.
He lets out what sounds like a frustrated exclamation.
"You need to stop yelling and you need to speak slower," she says.
"Somebody killing somebody over here!"
"Someone seen into your door?" she asks.
"Outside the duplex, I say!" he yells.
"Yes, they're outside the duplex, I know that, but what is going on? They're fighting?"
"I don't know if that girl is alive!"
"What is your name?"
"Never mind. I want it reported to the police right away!"
"You are reporting it to the police, sir. The officers are going to want to know who's calling, cause we don't know what's going on."
"Outside there's a girl that's got no clothes on and she's lying in the snow!"
"OK, just hold on one moment."
The recording ends.
That's when Kotchile hangs up and calls his neighbour, John Cotchilly, who speaks better English.
Cotchilly made his own call to the RCMP at 7:33.
The first Fort Good Hope officer to respond says he was awoken at 7:18 and got to the scene just after 7:30 a.m.
The RCMP says it has an online aboriginal language translation system available for people who do not speak English.
No one from the RCMP was available to say how the system works or whether it was in place on the day Lafferty was killed.
The trial continues today.