Nunavut man gets life imprisonment for second-degree murder

Bruce Kayaitok sentenced in hometown of Kugaaruk


A Kugaaruk man who killed his common-law spouse in 2008 with the broken end of a mop handle was handed a life sentence March 25.

Justice Earl Johnson of the Nunavut Court of Justice sentenced Bruce Kayaitok to life in prison and recommended that he be eligible to apply for parole after 15 years.

“It’s an automatic life imprisonment if you’re found guilty of second-degree murder,” Crown prosecutor Doug Garson said.

Garson said about 30 people turned up for the sentence hearing in Kugaaruk’s community hall.

Johnson convicted Kayaitok of second-degree murder in a written judgment filed Aug. 23, 2013 at the Nunavut Court of Justice.

That’s after Kayaitok attempted to plead guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter April 29.

Crown prosecutor Paul Bychok and Kayaitok’s defence lawyer submitted an agreed statement of facts.

But they did not agree on a verdict and the Crown continued to seek a conviction for second-degree murder.

Unlike first degree murder, which requires a premeditated intention to kill, second-degree murder is unplanned but results from dangerous conduct that shows disregard for human life.

Manslaughter is an unlawful killing without intent or malice and carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Johnson ultimately agreed that when Kayaitok stabbed his spouse, Belinda Tootiak, 30, with the top of a broken mop handle in their shared home in Kugaaruk during the early morning hours of June 13, 2008, he did so with “cognitive functioning and purposeful conduct.”

In plain language, this means Kayaitok knew what he was doing when he killed his common-law wife.

Tootiak died of blood loss after a major artery in her thigh was punctured.

Kayaitok first said Tootiak fell in the shower, but then changed his story and said she fell on the broken mop handle.

A medical examiner’s report said Tootiak’s body was covered with 44 fresh injuries, and other injuries that could have been inflicted earlier.

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