Bishop trial slated for May, but location unclear

Accused in Cambridge Bay murders still awaits hearing on request to move trial to Iqaluit


(Updated, Aug. 14)

Chris Bishop is scheduled to stand trial on three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder on May 24, 2010.

But exactly where that trial will take place still isn’t clear.

While lawyers set a trial date for Bishop in an Iqaluit courtroom Thursday, there’s still no date set for a change of venue application filed by defense lawyer Calvin Martin in mid-June.

Barry MacLaren, the Crown lawyer filling in for prosecutor Paul Bychok, said he’s not sure why no date for the change of venue hearing hasn’t been set. But he added such a hearing normally doesn’t take long and won’t affect the trial date.

“We’ll have the time between now and [May] to deal with that,” he said.

Bishop wants the trial to take place in Iqaluit because he feels it’s impossible to get a fair trial in Cambridge Bay.

In a factum filed in the Nunavut Court of Justice, Martin writes that unidentified people with knowledge of Cambridge Bay feel many residents are related to the three dead men and “will be seeking revenge and will not care about the law.”

“Another [person] feels that all residents of Cambridge Bay will have an opinion of the shooting incident and that a Cambridge Bay jury would not be unbiased and would convict whether or not Chris Bishop had a good defense.”

Martin continues: “Extensive prejudicial publicity before the trial, pronounced hostility toward the accused, widespread sympathy for the victim and a frightened or enraged community, surely create…the kind of emotionally-charged atmosphere in which the ends of justice may be best served by removal of the trial to another venue.”

Bishop is accused of killing Kevin Komaksiut, 21, and Keith Atatahak, 28, both of Cambridge Bay, and Dean Cost, 29, of Edmonton. Two other people, Antoinette Bernhardt, and Logan Pigalak, were shot and wounded in the incident. He’s currently in remand in Ottawa.

During a preliminary hearing in Iqaluit last November, Crown lawyer Paul Bychok said the prosecution plans to call 20 civilian witnesses and at least six police witnesses during trial.

(For legal reasons, comments are closed for this article.)

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