Testimony wraps up in Iqaluit attempted murder trial
Jordan Kovic was charged after allegedly running over a person with a snowmobile multiple times
Updated on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023 at 3:45 p.m.
In the attempted murder trial Wednesday of Jordan Kovic, a forensic psychiatrist didn’t dispute a clinical psychologist’s finding that Kovic suffers from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
Kovic was 19 years old when he was charged with attempted murder after allegedly running a man over with a snowmobile and then repeatedly kicking him, in Iqaluit on Dec. 27, 2019.
The 28-year-old man was injured and taken to hospital in Ottawa but survived the incident.
Kovic has pleaded not guilty.
His trial began in August 2022, but last November it was adjourned until this week so Kovic’s lawyer could be present.
During the late August and early September period of the trial in 2022, clinical psychologist Dr. Monty Nelson testified that he did not believe Kovic intended to attempt murder, citing the symptoms of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is a lifelong disability that affects the brain and body of people who were exposed to alcohol in the womb, court heard.
Under cross-examination, Nelson noted that people with the disorder tend to act impulsively and struggle with their emotions and decision-making.
After examining Kovic, in addition to diagnosing him with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder Nelson also diagnosed him as having a mild intellectual disability.
Kovic was also diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in 2012, the court previously heard.
On Wednesday, forensic psychiatrist Dr. Hy Bloom testified remotely as a Crown witness on the features he said were lacking in Nelson’s report.
Defence lawyer Eva Tache-Green contested Bloom’s testimony, arguing that Justice Susan Charlesworth does not need another expert to help review evidence because that is the judge’s responsibility.
Tache-Green also pointed that Nelson is not a psychiatrist, nor does he have expertise in forensics, but was called only to provide a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder assessment.
While Bloom did not examine Kovic, he offered testimony on Nelson’s report.
Charlesworth allowed Bloom’s testimony.
“It would be of some assistance to have another opinion about the process of interviewing and assessing Mr. Kovic,” Charlesworth said.
For a report on Kovic, Bloom said he would have non-offensively pressed on the instances where Kovic said he does not have memory of the alleged incident.
Bloom said he would try “returning to the subject matter and trying to see whether or not different questions or a different approach would bring more mental clarity.”
While Bloom said he might be able to draw conclusions on what mental disorder a person may have, the issue he has in any assessment he does is determining whether that disorder could be the reason for their behaviour.
Bloom said he would also ask the person he is assessing about their mental state at the time of an incident.
“If the person has complete amnesia [about an incident] and I don’t have enough external information, I may say, ‘I cannot offer an opinion,’” Bloom said.
He added that Kovic’s file suggests a number of potential diagnoses, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, intellectual disorder and conduct disorder.
But Bloom did not question Nelson’s diagnosis of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. As a result, the Crown is no longer questioning whether Kovic has the disorder, Crown lawyer Emma Baasch told Nunatsiaq News outside of court.
Defence lawyer Tache-Green asked Bloom whether he had audio files of Nelson’s interview with Kovic. Bloom responded that he only had interview notes.
Testimony in the trial wrapped up Wednesday. Next, oral submissions by the lawyers are scheduled for Nov. 20.
Correction: This article has been updated from an earlier version to reflect that defence lawyer Eva Tache-Green contested the testimony of Dr. Hy Bloom.