Nunavut appeal court upholds conviction of Sanikiluaq man who shot girlfriend
Archie Kattuk was convicted of 2nd-degree murder in November 2021
The Nunavut Court of Appeal is upholding the second-degree murder conviction of a man who shot his common-law spouse at close range six years ago in Sanikiluaq.
An Iqaluit jury convicted Archie Kattuk in November 2021, and Kattuk was sentenced the next month to life in prison with no parole eligibility for 12 years.
Kattuk had killed his spouse, Mina Kittosuk, on Aug. 22, 2017, by shooting her in the torso at close range, then turned the gun on himself. He was medevaced to Winnipeg for treatment.
The Crown and defence agreed at trial that Kattuk killed Kittosuk. But Kattuk argued he never intended to kill his spouse — he only wanted to scare her.
At the trial, Judge Bonnie Tulloch instructed the jury that their duty was to decide whether Kattuk was guilty of manslaughter or second-degree murder.
Kattuk’s defence lawyers filed an appeal of the conviction, arguing Tulloch erred on two points: She did not properly instruct the jury on how it should consider the word “accident” in relation to the incident, and she did not properly explain permissible use of Kattuk’s post-incident conduct in jury deliberations.
Nunavut Court of Appeal Justices Shannon Smallwood, Elizabeth Hughes and Jolaine Antonio heard the appeal on Feb. 14.
“The jury was instructed to consider the only live question: whether the killing was an accident or the jury had a reasonable doubt as to accident,” the judges state in their decision.
They went on to say separate instructions asking the jury to consider the term “accident,” as it pertains to legal terms such as actus reus or mens rea, “would have complicated the charge, confused the issues, and risked undermining the appellant’s position on culpability for manslaughter.”
Tulloch also instructed the jury to be careful in interpreting Kattuk’s conduct after he shot Kittosuk.
“It tells you nothing about whether the killing was intentional or done with the knowledge that death was likely,” she told the jury at the time.
Kattuk’s lawyer argued his actions after he shot Kittosuk could have been explained as a reaction to her death, or a reaction to accidentally pulling the trigger.
The appeals judges disagreed, saying it was appropriate for Tulloch to instruct the jury to not give any weight to this issue, as the sole issue they were charged to decide was Kattuk’s intent in shooting Kittosuk.