Police allege Hikoalok told them: ‘I didn’t know I had killed anyone’

Ottawa trial continues for Cambridge Bay man accused of first-degree murder in 2018 killing

Const. Natasha Norman (left) and Const. Jason Trevis of the Ottawa Police Service testify Wednesday in the trial of Tyler Hikoalok in Ottawa. Hikoalok, 22, is accused of first-degree murder in the 2018 death of Elisabeth Salm. Courtroom sketch by Lauren Foster-MacLeod)

By Madalyn Howitt

Police officers who arrested Tyler Hikoalok for the murder of Elisabeth Salm in 2018 testified Wednesday he told them he was “blackout drunk” when he allegedly killed the librarian in Ottawa.

On Wednesday, Ottawa Police Service Const. Natasha Norman testified she was in plainclothes on May 27, 2018 when she observed Hikoalok walking with some people on Rideau Street west of Nelson Street, a busy commercial area of downtown Ottawa.

Norman testified that Hikoalok said to her, “I was blackout drunk a couple of days ago. I didn’t know I had killed anyone” and also said “I woke up on the sidewalk.”

Hikoalok, 22, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Salm, 59, a volunteer librarian at the Christian Science Reading Room at 141 Laurier Ave. West.

A few hours after arriving to start her morning shift on May 24, 2018, Salm was discovered severely beaten and unresponsive in the study room of the centre by a colleague.

Salm was rushed to Ottawa Civic Hospital by first responders but died the following day in the intensive care unit.

Hikoalok’s trial started Sept. 12. A forensic pathologist has already testified Salm suffered 54 injuries in the attack.

The jury viewed video footage on Tuesday taken from outside a neighbouring building on Laurier Avenue, which the Crown alleged shows Hikoalok entering the reading room at 9:15 a.m. and leaving by the garage door more than an hour later.

On the day he was arrested in 2018, Norman told the court, Hikoalok was wearing a black T-shirt with a camouflage print on the shoulders and down the sides. He had on black pants, black Air Jordan sneakers, was carrying a black backpack and had on a black Boston Celtics baseball cap with a silver sticker on the brim.

At 4:37 p.m. Norman and five other officers on surveillance stepped out of their vehicles and arrested Hikoalok.

Hikoalok was co-operative with officers and did not resist arrest, Norman said. Asked what his demeanour was like, Norman said he did not appear angry or upset.

“I would say he was emotionless,” Norman said.

At one point, however, Norman said she heard Hikoalok say “What … is wrong with me” and repeating “I didn’t know I killed anyone.”

“It seemed like he was talking to himself,” Norman said.

She did not smell alcohol or marijuana on his breath and said the accused was not showing signs of intoxication, such as being unsteady on his feet or having watery eyes.

Const. Jason Trevis told the court he arrived at the arrest scene at 4:45 p.m. to transport Hikoalok to the police station at 474 Elgin St.

Trevis testified that while he was transporting Hikoalok, the accused asked him: “How much time do people get for first-degree murder?”

Trevis said that at 5:11 p.m. while waiting in the police vehicle outside the station, Hikoalok became upset and slammed his head into the divider between the front and back seats.

“What the…. I’m getting charged with murder,” Trevis said Hikoalok said.

The jury was then shown a photograph of Hikoalok taken at the police station, showing a bright red mark on his forehead.

The trial will continue Thursday with testimony from witnesses who saw Hikoalok on the day Salm died.


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