“It’s killing me inside”: Nunavut woman recounted knife attack to psychologist, court hears
Crown cross-examination begins of woman charged with second-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder
WARNING: This story contains details that some readers may find disturbing.
A Nunavut woman on trial for a 2016 knife attack on her children testified in an Iqaluit courtroom on Thursday, Feb. 13, that she had recounted her memories of the alleged attack to a psychologist in 2017.
The day before, during questioning from her defence lawyer, the woman testified she did not remember committing the alleged attack.
The woman is charged with one count of second-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder on her three children that resulted in the death of her six-year-old daughter.
Second-degree murder is an intentional, unplanned killing that carries a sentence of life in prison with no parole for 10 years.
The other two children—one four years old and one four months old—recovered from the stab wounds after being medevaced to Winnipeg. The woman testified that she had also stabbed herself and was also medevaced and recovered.
The police arrested the accused woman on May 12, 2016, in her home after responding to a call. The woman’s name is protected under a publication ban ordered by the Nunavut Court of Justice.
The trial of the 31-year-old woman, which began in Coral Harbour on Jan. 27 and adjourned on Feb. 6, resumed this week at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit, starting on Wednesday, Feb. 12.
On Thursday, Feb. 13, holding a transcript in his hand, Crown prosecutor Barry McLaren read to the court a conversation between the woman and a psychologist that took place in 2017, one year after the alleged attack.
Wearing a black shirt, blue leggings and green socks, the woman followed along with a copy of the transcript from the witness stand. She occasionally took sips of red Gatorade.
On the first day of the woman’s testimony, she told the court she remembered preparing antibiotics for her youngest child on the morning of the alleged attack. The next thing she remembered was “blood,” she told the court on Wednesday.
The woman also told the court on Wednesday that she had attempted suicide twice before the birth of her children and said she was verbally and physically abused by her common-law partner throughout their relationship. She also testified she would cry “out of the blue” after the birth of her third child.
McLaren argued the transcript of the conversation between the woman and the psychologist shows that the woman does have a memory of the alleged attack.
“When you were talking to Dr. Wong … you told her you could remember holding a knife in a panic…. And you said you were walking around the house for a while and ‘I put it back,’” McLaren said, quoting the transcript.
The woman agreed that she told the psychologist at the time that she remembered holding a knife.
“So what you’re saying is in 2017 you remembered that you had a knife but in 2020, you’ve forgotten that you had a knife,” McLaren said.
“Yes,” the woman said.
“How is it you’ve forgotten a detail like that?”
“Because [what] I did was … a terrible thing. And I’ve been thinking about it this whole entire time I’ve been in custody and it’s killing me inside. I don’t really remember anything at all, at times. At times I do remember, but at this point everything is very pressuring me here so I can’t really put things together right now,” the woman said.
McLaren then read a section of the transcript where the woman said, “I can’t take this anymore, my babies. And that’s when I first started with my son.”
“At that point, it seems to me that you’re starting to describe to Dr. Wong what happened inside the house when you attacked your children, isn’t that correct?” McLaren asked.
“Yes,” the woman said quietly after a pause.
McLaren asked the woman if she had always remembered the alleged attack up until the point she spoke to the psychologist.
“Yeah,” the woman said.
Reading from the transcript, McLaren told the court that the woman told the psychologist she was initially going to kill only herself.
The woman also told the psychologist that her common-law partner, also the father of her children, scared her, McLaren read.
“I didn’t want to leave them to him no more,” McLaren read from the transcript. “If I can’t say anything to piss him off or to stand for myself, how am I going to stand for my children? I didn’t mean to go this far without them.”
McLaren then asked the woman details about the attack on her youngest son.
“You were trying to kill him weren’t you?”
“Yes,” the woman said through sobs.
McLaren then asked the women about the other two children, asking if she knew she had stabbed them too.
The woman said she knew.
McLaren also showed the woman photos of the stab wounds on two of her children.
The woman also testified that the knife she used in the alleged attack was a steak knife from her house.
“I’m going to use the word plan, but I’m not using it in the legal sense. But the plan you had in your head … when you took that knife out of the knife holder was that you were going to kill all of you, you and the three children, right?”
“Yes,” she said.
“It felt like I wasn’t in my right mind and then that’s when I noticed that there was so much blood. And then that’s when I called the RCMP.”
“When you called the RCMP were you hoping that they would come and save you?”
“No,” she said.
“Just the kids?”
McLaren then asked Justice Susan Charlesworth, the trial’s judge, to adjourn the trial until the next morning.
So far, 31 witnesses have testified, including police and health centre staff. This is the first time the woman has taken the stand during the trial.
The trial continues this morning at the Nunavut Court of Justice.