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DNA evidence links Nunavut suspect to murder victim

Judge expected to render verdict in Peter Angutimarik case in February

By STEVE DUCHARME

Justice Neil Sharkey is expected to provide a verdict Feb. 16 in the second degree murder trial of Peter Angutimarik. (FILE PHOTO)


Justice Neil Sharkey is expected to provide a verdict Feb. 16 in the second degree murder trial of Peter Angutimarik. (FILE PHOTO)

DNA tests on rubber gloves allegedly used during the murder of an Igloolik teenager inside his home confirm that his roommate was the man who wore them.

Peter Angutimarik, now in his 30s, has pleaded not guilty to a second-degree murder charge in connection with the death of Esa Angutiqjuaq nearly seven years ago.

Angutiqjuaq was 19 when his throat was slit with a knife in the early morning hours of Feb. 28, 2009 at an Igloolik home that he shared with Angutimarik and one other roommate.

Angutimarik’s trial began Dec. 14 at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit and continued for seven days before lawyers presented concluding arguments on Dec. 22.

According to Crown lawyer Amy Porteous, blood found on the exterior of the rubber gloves — which were found in the residence — gave a positive match to the deceased.

“And then DNA consistent with the accused [was found] on the inside of each glove,” Porteous added.

Blood found on the exterior of jeans allegedly worn by Angutimarik that evening also provided a positive match to the deceased.

And according to testimony on Dec. 17 by a forensic investigator, the jeans — along with other bloodstained clothing — was found by police in a room said to belong to Angutimarik.

Police discovered one of the rubber gloves worn during the murder stuffed behind a mattress in the same room.

The other glove was found in a storage closet belonging to the victim: it was placed in a PlayStation 2 box along with two knives that had traces of blood also matching the deceased.

The Crown also played for the court a 2009 video of Angutimarik confessing to RCMP officers that he committed the murder.

The video was the subject of a “voir dire” hearing before the trial because Angutimarik now says that his 2009 confession was made under duress.

That allegation, along with several changes in legal counsel, explain why the trial has been delayed for more than six years.

“Voir dire” hearings are special court processes held to decide if certain pieces of evidence should be admitted in court.

Justice Neil Sharkey ruled that the videotaped confession would be admissible as evidence into the trial.

The Crown called two RCMP officers that first arrived to the residence, Constable Lincoln Nedjelski and Sergeant Les Brushett, for testimony Dec. 21.

The officers described to the court the state of the residence upon their arrival, as well as taking Angutimarik, along with a third roommate, Jonah Innuksuk, into custody.

“From the time they arrived, no one was ever on the second floor of the house,” said Porteous, referring to the officers’ testimony.

The statements confirm earlier testimony by Innuksuk, who told the court he never returned upstairs after Angutiqjuaq burst into his room bleeding profusely and clutching his throat.

The two returned to a downstairs living room where Innuksuk called emergency services.

Angutiqjuaq eventually died from blood loss before medical assistance could arrive.

Innuksuk told the court he believed Angutimarik slit Angutiqjuaq’s throat on the first floor of the house before he went upstairs, hid evidence and pretended to be asleep in his room.

But Alison Crowe, Angutimarik’s lawyer, suggested the defence would argue it was Innuksuk who returned upstairs and placed the knives in the PlayStation 2 box.

“If Peter were to tell the court that he followed you upstairs and saw you in Esa’s room with rubber gloves on, putting two knifes inside a box… would you agree with that?” she said during Innuksuk’s cross-examination.

Angutimarik, however, declined to testify in his own defence before the Crown rested its case.

Lawyers made their final arguments Dec. 22.

Sharkey is expected to render his decision on Angutimarik’s murder charge Feb. 16.

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