Jury selected for Bishop trial

Cambridge Bay man faces three murder charges


Seven women and five men will hear the second-degree murder trial of Chris Bishop set to start May 26 in Iqaluit.

Bishop, now 24, faces three counts of second-degree murder in connection with the shooting deaths of Kevin Komaksiut, 21, and Keith Atatahak, 28, both of Cambridge Bay, and Dean Costa, 29, of Edmonton. The shooting took place in Cambridge Bay in January, 2007.

Bishop also faces two counts of attempted murder from the same incident, which left two other people wounded. Wearing a crisp dark suit, Bishop stood inside a makeshift courtroom at the Ukkivik Residence May 25 and pleaded not guilty to all five charges.

Bishop’s lawyer, Scott Cowan said he would “more than likely” make his case an issue of self-defence.

“This sad case had the ending it did because Chris Bishop was attacked in his house. That’s why the case had the terrible ending that it did,” he said. “He was asleep in his bed and a few short seconds later it was all over.”

Crown prosecutor Paul Bychok said the Crown expected call up to 13 witnesses out of as many as 21 witnesses. He added that several forensic reports, including a pathologist’s report, a DNA sample and blood spatter analysis.

“It’s uncontroversial evidence of expert witnesses,” Cowan said. “Certain things were found certain places and we’re able to admit that based on the investigation. And when a DNA expert says ‘this is so-and-so’s blood’ it’s not hard to agree with them.”

Jury selection was moved to the gymnasium at the Ukkivik Residence to accommodate the jury pool. The 12-person jury and two alternates were chosen from a pool of around 150 candidates. Nearly half were excused before the selection process began.

“The only thing we ask of jurors is that they be fair, they be impartial and that they base their decision, whatever it is, only on the evidence they hear during the course of the trial,” Justice John Vertes told potential jurors.

The selection process itself was held in a dark storage room, located behind the gymnasium, with plywood on the walls and broken down exercise equipment in the corner.

The defence challenged nine potential jurors, removing them from consideration, while crown lawyers challenged two.

Bishop has been in custody for more than three years awaiting trial. In 2008 he waged a successful battle with the Nunavut Legal Services Board to win legal aid funding to pay for Toronto defence lawyer Calvin Martin, a specialist in self-defence and firearms cases.

The LSB didn’t want to pay for an out-of-territory lawyer, arguing Bishop had plenty of choices from the Nunavut bar. But Bishop argued that Nunavut-based lawyers he met with wanted him to plead guilty, while he wanted to stand trial.

The Nunavut Court of Justice agreed with Bishop, but Martin later had to withdraw from the cases because of health reasons.

And in March, the Nunavut Court of Justice ordered the trial be moved from Cambridge Bay to Iqaluit.

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