Colin Makpah

Colin Makpah, in blue, heads to the Iqaluit courthouse where he's facing a charge of manslaughter in the death of Donald Gamble in Rankin Inlet in August of 2010. Makpah has pleaded not guilty. (FILE PHOTO)

Tuesday was the first day of a manslaughter trial for Colin Makpah, 29, of Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, who’s charged in the death of Donald (DJ) Gamble in August of 2010.

Makpah has pleaded not guilty in the case.

Abraham Nakoolak was the Crown's first witness.

He had also been charged with manslaughter in relation to Gamble's death, but that charge was withdrawn following a preliminary inquiry in March 2013.

Nakoolak said on the night in question, Gamble and his girlfriend were drinking at Nakoolak's Rankin Inlet home.

The RCMP showed up after receiving a complaint that Gamble was drinking and driving, and towed away his ATV.

Nakoolak testified that when Gamble found out his ATV was gone, he got angry and started blaming his girlfriend.

Nakoolak said he and Colin Makpah tried to calm Gamble down; then, Gamble hit his girlfriend.

A fight broke out as Nakoolak and Makpah tried holding Gamble back, but he was almost 120 kilograms and larger than the two men.

Nakoolak testified that everything happened very quickly and he may not have seen everything, because Gamble had pinned him to the floor.

He said that may have allowed Makpah to leave get a knife.

Nakoolak said he didn't know Gamble had been stabbed until later; he thought Gamble had just passed out on his front steps.

Early in the morning of August 14, 2010, Nakoolak talked with Makpah through Facebook messages.

In one message, Makpah asked how the big boy was.

And in another, "Did I cut him? What's he saying?”

The defence will continue its cross-examination of Nakoolak this morning.

The trial is expected to take three weeks.