Tears, regret in Iqaluit courtroom as killer of teenage girl sentenced to life in prison
Jerry Ulayuruluk, 48, killed 17-year-old girl in October 2018
Updated Friday, August 25 at 4:35 p.m.
During an emotional sentencing hearing in Iqaluit court on Friday, the mother of a 17-year-old murder victim expressed regret that she couldn’t protect her daughter from the man who killed her.
Jerry Ulayuruluk will spend life in prison with no chance of parole for 14 years, after he was convicted of second-degree murder earlier this month.
Justice Christian Lyons handed down his decision, in agreement with a joint submission from Crown and defence lawyers.
Ulayuruluk, 48, was originally charged with the murder in 2018. A publication ban prevents Nunatsiaq News from reporting any information that could identify the victim.
In the early hours of Oct. 26, 2018, Ulayuruluk beat up and stabbed the teenager after a party in his home community of Igloolik. He had known her for about two months, court was told.
Attendees of the party described Ulayuruluk that night as being intoxicated and violent.
The biological and adoptive mothers of the young victim were present in the courtroom at sentencing Friday. Both provided Inuktitut written statements to Crown prosecutor John MacFarlane, who read them in English to the courtroom.
Court heard the victim was originally born in Iqaluit, raised in Sanirajak, and was living in Igloolik to finish her high school.
Her biological mother said in her statement that around the time the teenager was killed, she was trying to move her back home to Sanirajak.
“I wanted to help her get home,” MacFarlane read.
“My apologies, may you rest well.”
The victim’s adoptive mother wrote that she has struggled to maintain employment and feed her surviving family since the murder.
She also wrote that she has been battling cancer, has had trouble accessing grief counselling, and is afraid of Ulayuruluk.
“Our lives have changed dramatically,” MacFarlane read from the adoptive mother’s statement.
“I don’t want him to be released … I’m personally scared of him.”
MacFarlane called the killing “brutal and unnecessary.”
Defence lawyer Craig Rogers described Ulayuruluk as a father of three teenagers with whom he has had little contact since his 2018 arrest and incarceration. He described Ulayuruluk’s upbringing as traumatic and violent.
His now-deceased parents were heavy drinkers who abused him as a child. His sister and best friend were both murdered.
Ulayuruluk has a lengthy criminal record of assaults dating back to 1991. A year before the murder, he was convicted of an assault on his then-wife.
“There are no winners in this situation,” Rogers said at sentencing.
In the nearly five years since his arrest, Rogers noted that Ulayuruluk had been co-operative in jail.
He has taken several courses including a substance use rehabilitation program, first aid training, and construction and maintenance education.
Ulayuruluk has been able to leave jail supervised to work volunteer maintenance jobs and spend time on the land as part of his rehabilitation.
When given the opportunity to speak by Justice Lyons, Ulayuruluk turned to the victim’s family members in the courtroom and apologized in Inuktutit.
“I pray for you guys,” he said, through the court interpreter. “I love you guys with all my heart.”
Ulayuruluk’s sentence begins from the day of his arrest in 2018, which leaves him with approximately nine years to serve before he’s eligible for parole.
Parole is not guaranteed. That is a decision made by the Parole Board of Canada.
Lyons described the murder as a “senseless” killing of a vulnerable Indigenous woman, which followed an “extended and violent assault.”
However, Lyons said he believed Ulayuruluk’s remorse was genuine.
“Jerry will have to live the rest of his life knowing he killed a young woman,” Lyons said.
“Your life is not over … There is hope for you to live a better life in the future.”
When the hearing adjourned, the victim’s family left the courtroom in tears and held each other in a long embrace.
Ulayuruluk watched as they left the courtroom. Before returning to the court’s jail cells, he wiped tears from his own eyes.
Correction: This article was corrected to note Jerry Ulayuruluk will have to serve approximately nine more years in jail before being eligible for parole.