Lawyers wrap up final arguments in Nunavut man’s murder trial
Crown says Van Eindhoven’s explanation “a complete fabrication”
Crown and defence lawyers in the Van Eindhoven murder trial got their last opportunity to persuade an eight-man, five-woman jury when they made their final arguments Oct. 10 at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit.
Van Eindhoven is accused of second-degree murder in connection with the 2004 death of his common-law spouse, 22-year-old Leanne Irkotee in Rankin Inlet.
The jury heard evidence from RCMP members, doctors and Van Eindhoven himself over the past two weeks.
Defence lawyer Laura Stevens started her submission by telling jurors that their decision is not easy, and reminded them that almost a decade has passed since the incident took place.
Stevens asked jurors to remember specific details of a single day in their lives almost 10 years ago, when they assess the evidence given by various witnesses.
Stevens said Van Eindhoven had “clearly” been under the influence to some extent on the morning in question, but that he did not kill his common-law spouse.
This is a case of violence against violence, said Stevens. The defence maintains that Irkotee attempted to stab him while in bed — which caused a laceration to Van Eindhoven’s chest.
The defence case is that Van Eindhoven stopped the knife with his hands while Irkottee attacked him.
After Van Eindhoven stopped the attack, Irkotee fell down in the room and the steak knife entered her body and killed her, Stevens said.
Stevens said VanEindhoven loved Irkotee, even though he had committed “nasty assaults against her” the previous night, which included beating, biting, and causing bruises.
“She had every right to be angry at him,” Stevens said.
And although being guilty of assault is a serious crime, it “doesn’t equate to being guilty of murder.”
“He loved this women, and he had done wrong to her. But he misses her,” Stevens said.
Stevens said accidents like this are more likely to happen when people are drinking — which Irkotee had been.
It’s also more likely accidents happen when people are upset, emotional, and in a tight room with several scattered items sprawled on the floor.
Stevens also pointed to discrepancies in the Crown’s case, saying RCMP didn’t take photos of Van Eindhoven’s hands as evidence, and that investigators did not examine certain areas of the knife to detect Van Eindhoven’s blood on it.
In her closing remarks, Stevens told jury that this is “one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make in life” and urged them to make a decision “faithfully and truthfully.”
Crown prosecutor Nick Devlin, however, said the truth slipped out of Van Eindhoven several times after his arrest and that many points in Van Eindhoven’s story do not make sense.
The first is the stab wound that killed Irkotee — Devlin said an expert pathologist determined the wound is consistent with a stabbing.
Devlin said it would have been “miraculous” if Irkotee had accidently stabbed herself, calling it a “lottery chance” which only happens in extremely rare cases.
Van Eindhoven’s “savage” anger that morning is also an indicator that it’s likely he killed Irkotee, and also that Van Eindhoven admitted he had tunnel vision at the time.
Devlin said Van Eindhoven did, in fact, admit to the killing in a phone call at the Rankin Inlet RCMP detachment after he had been arrested, saying that emotion got the better of him and the truth came out.
Van Eindhoven’s story has also changed since the incident, Devlin said.
At one point, when he was giving evidence in his defence, Van Eindhoven said he heard footsteps prior to Irkotee entering the room — something Devlin said is not what Van Eindhoven has said in previous statements.
Devlin described Van Eindhoven’s story of waking up and catching the blade in his hands, claiming Irkotee tried to stab him, as a “complete fabrication” and said it “didn’t happen.”
Devlin questioned why there had been no wounds on Van Eindhoven’s hands — although he agreed that there had been evidence that there was one cut on his hands that an RCMP officer pointed out during interrogation.
Devlin called Van Eindhoven “mean” after he beat Irkotee the night before because he subsequently told her clean up — saying this is an example of his dominance and control over her.
He also said Irkotee was a “kind, gentle and forgiving person” and that it is “unthinkable” that a person with no previous criminal record would try to commit such a crime.
In the end, Devlin said Van Eindhoven knew what he was doing when he attacked Irkotee.
“Rage is not a defense for murder two,” Devlin said.
Devlin said he can “understand why he doesn’t want to admit this deed” and said the truth is “sad but obvious.”
Justice Earl Johnson was expected to instruct the jury Oct. 11. Instead, proceedings have been adjourned until Oct. 15.