Iqaluit resident pleads guilty to 2008 manslaughter
Jimmy Nowdlak, 29, to be sentenced later
An Iqaluit resident who sexually assaulted a woman in 2008 during an attack that resulted in her death in 2010 pleaded guilty to manslaughter at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit Nov. 1.
Jimmy Nowdlak, 29, appeared in court, where the agreed statement of facts was read aloud by Crown prosecutor Amy Porteous.
According to the statement of facts, Nowdlak sexually assaulted a 57-year-old Pond Inlet woman behind Inuksuk High School on Sept. 8, 2008.
The woman had been staying at the old medical boarding home in Iqaluit, located near the high school, to attend medical appointments.
At about 8 p.m., the woman set out to visit her sister, but never made it to her sister’s house.
Witnesses say they heard screaming coming from behind the high school at about 8:45 p.m. that evening and saw the outline of a man hitting someone.
After calling the police, a witness went outside to investigate, where he saw a man getting off a woman and doing up his pants, before running away.
Police arrived and found the woman lying on the ground covered in bruises. The woman had swelling on her face and didn’t have pants on. Police also found a pair of sunglasses at the scene.
At the hospital, doctors found bleeding and bruising on the surface of the woman’s brain.
She also had a broken cheekbone and broken jaw sustained by two heavy blows to the face, and a forceful fall.
An investigation showed the woman had been dragged 50 feet down the hill near Inuksuk High School.
A medevac flight flew her to Ottawa shortly after the incident for medial care.
After the attack, the woman was not coherent enough to explain what happened that night.
Iqaluit RCMP began investigating immediately. The RCMP interviewed a group of smokers who said Nowdlak ran past them on Sept. 8, 2008.
Also, an acquaintance of the accused identified the glasses found at the scene as Nowdlak’s.
When RCMP questioned Nowdlak, who moved to Ottawa shortly after the incident, he denied the sexual assault allegations. He also said he lost his sunglasses on the first night he moved to Ottawa.
On January 25, 2009, police took another statement from Nowdlak, who said he left his sunglasses in a vehicle in Iqaluit.
By that time, Nowdlak had moved back to Iqaluit, and was already serving time in prison for another offense.
Then, DNA tests confirmed that hair found on the woman’s underwear and DNA found on the sunglasses matched Nowdlak’s DNA.
On Feb. 5, 2009 , a justice of the peace consented to Nowdlak’s detention, although he was already spending time in prison.
In August 2010, the woman died as a result of her injuries. A portion of her brain responsible for swallowing had been damaged in the attack. As a result, food and liquid slowly started entering her airways and she suffered lung infections that led to her death.
After her death, Nowdlak’s charges were upgraded to first degree murder.
But following a preliminary inquiry Justice Earl Johnson, on Sept. 16, 2011, downgraded the matter to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Originally the case had been set for a trial, but Nowdlak pleaded guilty instead.
Crown prosecutor Amy Porteous is asking for a 14- to 18-year prison sentence, while defence lawyer Laura Stevens, is asking for eight to 10 years.
The maximum sentence for manslaughter is life in prison.
A sentencing decision from Justice Robert Kilpatrick is expected within a few weeks.