Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut August 12, 2014 - 2:29 pm

Second murder trial for Chris Bishop postponed in Nunavut court

Trial set to begin next month will be scheduled in November

NUNATSIAQ NEWS

The re-trial of a Cambridge Bay man, charged with three counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder, has been postponed.

The trial, originally set to begin next month, will be scheduled in November.

Chris Bishop, 28, was convicted in 2010 on all five charges by an Iqaluit jury.

But the Nunavut Court of Appeal overturned the convictions in January, 2013 and ordered a new trial.

Their majority ruling said the trial judge, Justice John Vertes, made errors in fact and law, skewing the evidence before the jury.

“A more lopsided selection of evidence is hard to imagine,” Justice Jean Côté wrote in the appeal judgement.

The charges relate to a 2007 incident in Cambridge Bay when Bishop shot at five home invaders who broke down his door, killing three. One attacker carried a golf club, while another was armed with a samurai sword.

Vertes sentenced Bishop to a mandatory term of life imprisonment, with no parole eligibility for 16 years.

But the appeal ruling said Vertes’ errors prevented Bishop from making a full defence at his trial. Côté said Vertes allowed inadmissible testimony, biasing the jury against Bishop, and also barred evidence that could have informed the jury about the home invaders’ past history of violence.

“The trial judge withheld from 12 lay jurors the dangerous criminal character of the leading home invaders…while letting the Crown portray the accused to the jurors as a habitual killer because of a casual private conversation, with no police or court records,” Côté said.

Kevin Komaksiut, 21, and Keith Atatahak, 28, of Cambridge Bay, as well as Dean Costa, 29, of Edmonton, died in the Jan. 6, 2007 shooting incident.

Logan Pigalak and Antoinette Bernhardt of Cambridge Bay suffered bullet wounds.

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