A new trial has been ordered for Chris Bishop, a Nunavut man who is serving time for three murders and two attempted murders which occurred in Cambridge Bay in 2007.
The Nunavut Court of Appeal released a 55-page decision today. Two of the three appeal court judges have said 27-year-old Bishop deserves a new trial.
"I think the court looked very carefully at the details of what was going on the night these awful shootings happened and looked very carefully at why the trial became unbalanced," said Scott Cowan, who represented Bishop during his trial in 2010.
Bishop was living in Cambridge Bay in 2007 when a group broke down his door and rushed inside. Bishop shot and killed three men, and wounded two other people.
At the trial held in 2010, a judge called it one of the most tragic incidents in Nunavut history; a night of hard drinking was followed by a violent home invasion and an explosion of gunfire.
At the time, Bishop’s lawyers said it was self-defense. However, the jury decided it was murder.
Then in an appeal this past September, Bishop's laywer argued about the testimony of one witness. The lawyer said Brenda Ohokak tarnished Bishop unfairly.
She had said Bishop bragged about shooting people in Yellowknife — new evidence heard by the judge and jury at the same time. James Morton was Bishop's lawyer at his appeal. He said the shooting never happened and that it taints Bishop's character.
Morton argued that the trial judge let the jury hear Ohokak's information, while keeping the jury from hearing similar information about others involved in the case.
Morton said the successful appeal is encouraging.
"[The appeal] suggests that Mr. Bishop, should there be a re-trial, has a creditable shot at being vindicated."
A new court date has yet to be set.
For now, Bishop will remain in prison at the Kingston Penitentiary. His legal counsel plans to file an application to try to get him out on bail.