Nunavut murder suspect says he doesn’t remember killing victim
Peter Kingwatsiak says gas sniffing caused black-outs on night of killing
Peter Kingwatsiak took the stand at his murder trial in Iqaluit June 24 to say he doesn’t remember shooting and killing his step-brother, Mappaluk Adla, in 2010 because he blacked out after sniffing gas.
After leaving his uncle’s house in Cape Dorset in the early hours of Sept. 20, 2010, Kingwatsiak testified before Justice Bonnie Tulloch that he sniffed gasoline for the fifth time in only a couple hours, this time from a snowmobile.
“What happened after you tasted gas at the snow machine?” defence lawyer James Morton asked his client.
“I blacked out,” Kingwatsiak replied.
“What’s the next thing you remember?” Morton asked.
“I remember leaving Mappaluk’s house,” Kingwatsiak answered.
“When I was down south [after], I found out what I had done.”
Kingwatsiak, 23, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Adla, and is also charged with breaking and entering into his uncle’s house earlier the same night to commit an indictable offence.
Before the trial began June 22, Kingwatsiak admitted to killing his step-brother by shooting him in the head at close range on Sept. 20, 2010, and to slashing his uncle in the face in a separate incident earlier the same day.
Morton led Kingwatsiak through nearly six hours of Inuktitut testimony on Wednesday.
The court heard that Kingwatsiak lost a brother in a hunting accident and a sister to suicide and that, as a youth, he began sniffing gas fumes and smoking marijuana.
When he was 14 or 15 years old, Kingwatsiak accidentally set himself on fire while sniffing gas fumes, burning about 45 per cent of his body, the accused said.
In the months before killing Adla, Kingwatsiak said he was sniffing gas fumes about once a week and the highs would last between one and three hours.
On Sept. 18, 2010, Kingwatsiak said he attended a dance at the local community hall, where he saw Adla with an ex-girlfriend, Geena Rose Lampron, who was 15 at the time.
Kingwatsiak had just turned 18 and Adla was 23.
Kingwatsiak said that although he’d been in love with Lampron earlier that year, by September that was no longer the case.
He left the dance an hour after arriving, the accused testified.
Later that night, Kingwatsiak said he bumped into Lampron and Adla together again but that he wasn’t jealous.
“Can you tell [the court] what you were feeling?” Morton asked.
“I didn’t like the fact that they were together when I saw them because I was trying to have a relationship with Geena Rose,” Kingwatsiak replied.
Later that same night, Lampron initiated a conversation with Kingwatsiak, the court heard.
She had seen Kingwatsiak earlier that night pointing a gun at Adla. The gun was not loaded and Kingwatsiak did not intend to shoot Adla, Kingwatsiak testified.
Lampron demanded the bullets for the gun, which Kingwatsiak had in his pocket, the court heard.
“I was pointing the gun at Mappaluk because he was trying to go out with a girl that I was trying to have as a girlfriend,” Kingwatsiak said.
Morton asked his client what he wanted Lampron to think or do as a result of pointing the gun at Adla.
“I thought we would be closer together,” Kingwatsiak replied.
The next evening, on Sept. 19, Kingwatsiak said he had an online conversation with Lampron.
“I was talking to her about having me as a boyfriend again,” he said.
“What did she communicate to you?” Morton asked.
After going to bed that night, Kingwatsiak said he got up around 3 or 3:30 a.m. and went to his grandfather’s boat on the beach.
There he sniffed gas fumes twice, and had one short black out period, before leaving the boat with his grandfather’s .22-calibre rifle, Kingwatsiak testified.
“I took the rifle, but I wasn’t thinking about the reasons why I took it,” he said.
Kingwatsiak said he then wandered the streets before ending up at his uncle’s house, where he sniffed more gasoline fumes rom a nearby motorcycle at least twice.
That’s when Kingwatsiak said he blacked out again.
When he came to, he was in his uncle’s house holding a knife, but his uncle took it away from him.
By this point, Kingwatsiak had already slashed his uncle across the face, the court heard.
Morton asked Kingwatsiak what he remembered between sniffing more gas outside his uncle’s house and having his uncle take it away from him.
“Up to today, I cannot tell you what I did during that time,” Kingwatsiak said.
“What did you say to your uncle?” Morton asked.
“He was asking me why I’d done what I did. I got confused and didn’t know what to say, so I told him I was told to do what I did,” Kingwatsiak answered.
“Had anyone told you to do what you did?”
“Do you know why you did what you did?”
Kingwatsiak said he remembers leaving his uncle’s house then, and intended to go home, but that’s when he came across a snowmobile and sniffed gas one last time that night.
“This time, on the snow machine, I would breathe in the gas [fumes], and hold it in my lungs until I couldn’t hold it anymore,” Kingwatsiak testified.
“The high was more intense.”
The next thing Kingwatsiak said he remembered was leaving Adla’s home, although Kingwatsiak has already admitted to killing his step-brother.
Kingwatsiak then ended up at his friend Tytoosie Tunnillie’s home.
Tunnillie testified earlier in the day that the first thing Kingwatsiak said after arriving was that he had shot Adla in the forehead “by accident.”
But Kingwatsiak said he only remembers telling his friend that he had just come from Adla’s home.
“I don’t know if I told [Tunnillie] that I had shot someone or not,” Kingwatsiak testified.
Kingwatsiak also denied his step-brother Etidloi Adla’s testimony from June 23, which alleged Kingwatsiak had pretended to be shooting Mappaluk Adla during prior target practice.
“Did you ever fire a gun at rocks… and pretend you were firing at Mappaluk?” Morton asked his client.
“No,” Kingwatsiak said.
Tulloch adjourned court around 4:30 p.m. June 24.
Crown prosecutors are expected to begin their cross-examination of Kingwatsiak June 25. Prosecutor Barry McLaren said the previously agreed upon statement of facts will likely have to be changed in light of Kingwatsiak’s testimony.
The trial, which is by judge alone at the Nunavut Court of Justice, is scheduled to wrap up June 26, but Tulloch said June 24 the trial may not finish on time.