Guilty verdict in Nunavut triple-murder trial
A man accused of gunning down three men and wounding two other people in a remote Nunavut community has been found guilty on three counts of second-degree murder.
Christopher Bishop, 24, was also found guilty on two counts of attempted murder in the Jan. 6, 2007, shootings in the western Nunavut hamlet of Cambridge Bay.
Keith Atatahak, 28, and Kevin Komaksiut, 22, both of Cambridge Bay, and Dean Costa, 29, of Edmonton were killed. Injured were Logan Pigalak and Antoinette Bernhardt, Atatahak's common-law wife.
"The battle is only half won. We have to live with it," Ernie Bernhardt, father of Antoinette Bernhardt, told reporters outside court after the verdict was delivered Tuesday night.
"I thank God for our justice system, it's a good system," he said.
The 12 people on the Nunavut Court of Justice jury had been deliberating since Tuesday afternoon after they received final instructions from Justice John Vertes.
Accused argued self-defence
During the trial, which began May 26 in Iqaluit, the jury heard that Bishop fired a semi-automatic assault rifle at a group of people as they broke into his Cambridge Bay housing unit in the early morning of Jan. 6.
In his instructions to the jury on Tuesday morning, Vertes said there was no question that Bishop had shot and killed the three men and wounded the two others.
However, Vertes said the jury had to decide whether Bishop acted in self-defence, as Bishop's lawyer argued.
"His response was called a criminal act and I don't know how that's possible," Scott Cowan, Bishop's lawyer, said after the verdict.
Vertes told the jury that those who argue they acted in self-defence must have a reasonable fear they would have faced death or serious harm. Those who argue self-defence must also feel they had no other way to save themselves from an attack.
In Bishop's case, Vertes said critical consideration should be given to where and when each of the victims was shot. Jurors have heard evidence that Bishop chased the people out of his house, shooting one of the men dead as he was fleeing.
Bishop is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 26. Cowan said he will look at the possibility of an appeal.