Crown closes case in Nunavut triple-slaying trial

The Crown's case against Christopher Bishop, the Nunavut man on trial in connection with a fatal 2007 shooting, has wrapped up with testimony about what happened after the deaths.

The Crown's case against Christopher Bishop, the Nunavut man on trial in connection with a fatal shooting that killed three men in 2007, wrapped up Tuesday with testimony about what happened in the hours after the deaths.

Bishop, 24, is charged with three counts of second-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder related to the Jan. 6, 2007, shooting in the western Nunavut hamlet of Cambridge Bay.

Keith Atatahak, 28, and Kevin Komaksiut, 22, both of Cambridge Bay, and 29-year-old Dean Costa of Edmonton were killed in the shooting. Injured were Logan Pigalak and Antoinette Bernhardt, Atakahak's common-law partner.

The Nunavut Court of Justice trial began May 26 in Iqaluit before a 12-person jury.

The court heard that Atatahak, Komaksiut, Costa and Pigalak broke into Bishop's housing unit shortly before 3 a.m. MT on Jan. 6, and Bishop opened fire on them with a semi-automatic assault rifle.

Defence lawyers, who are expected to begin presenting their case on Wednesday, have said they will likely argue that Bishop was acting in self-defence in response to a home invasion.

Smoked near deceased's body: witness

The Crown's last civilian witness to testify Tuesday was Bob Jancke, who lived near Bishop's housing unit and approached Bishop immediately after the shooting took place.

Jancke said he walked up to the top of Bishop's front stairs, where Bishop was smoking a marijuana joint near where the body of Costa lay inside.

Forensic experts told the court last week that Costa had been shot 10 times, including a few times following the fatal shot.

Jancke said Costa's body was on the floor inside the unit and that a metre-long samurai sword was still clutched in Costa's hands. He said he checked for a pulse on Costa and Atatahak but could not find one.

Tried to call for help

After Bishop finished smoking, he flicked the joint at Costa's body and said, "Here you go," Jancke told the court.

Once Jancke got Bishop to go inside and sit down on the couch, Bishop told him that he had called the RCMP twice to report that his home was being broken into, Jancke testified.

No officers had come to help, and Bishop said, "I dealt with it," Jancke told the court.

Shortly after the RCMP arrived, Bishop pulled out another joint and lit it, saying, "I might as well enjoy this; I'm going away for a very long time," Jancke recalled.

Jancke described Bishop as calm, lucid and very collected in the wake of the shooting.

Calm, composed

Const. Kevin Baynen, who arrested Bishop, also described Bishop as being remarkably calm and composed while he was being handcuffed and transported to the Cambridge Bay RCMP detachment.

Baynen said Bishop was mostly quiet at the RCMP station, but at one point, he asked officers why they did not respond when he called the RCMP to report the home invasion.

The court heard last week that Bishop had phoned the RCMP's emergency line twice — once at 2:50 a.m. after the men initially started banging on his door trying to get inside and again at 2:56 a.m. when they returned to try for a second time to break the door down.

Shortly after that second call, the men succeeded in breaking down Bishop's front door and rushed into his home.

A neighbour called the RCMP 64 seconds after Bishop's second phone call, by which time the shooting had stopped, the court heard.

Baynan testified that he was not even aware of Bishop's two phone calls to police, saying it was only later that he was briefed on the home invasion that led up to the shooting.

Another officer, Const. Matthew Hallett, testified that when Bishop was being moved from his cell to an interview room, he remarked, "There's justice for your f--king court system. Do it yourself."

Bishop's lawyer, Scott Cowan, has not yet indicated whether his client will testify in his own defence.