Nunavut court: Iqaluit murder accused told cops he didn’t do it
Pitseolak Peter last year denied causing injuries that led to Kathy Michael’s death
Pitseolak Peter of Iqaluit told RCMP investigators soon after his arrest last year that he did not inflict the brutal injuries that led to the February 2013 death of his common-law partner inside an Ottawa hospital.
“One thing I know is, I didn’t do it,” Peter told an RCMP investigator in a videotaped interview played during his trial July 21 at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit.
Justice John D. Rooke, a deputy judge from Alberta, is hearing the trial without a jury.
Peter, 52, faces a charge of second degree murder laid after Michael died Feb. 17, 2013 from complications arising from severe head injuries. The couple’s common-law relationship began around 2007.
Police, just after 8 p.m. Feb. 3, 2013, found her lying naked and unconscious, in a fetal position, inside the bathtub at house 2240B in Iqaluit, Const. Angela Spicer said in court.
When an emergency services worker pulled her upright, Spicer and other RCMP members told court they saw a big, jagged gash above Michael’s left eye and what appeared to be a large burn on her cheek — but no blood on her body.
They found Peter — who had recently been released from Baffin Correctional Centre after serving a sentence on an earlier conviction for an offence against Michael — in the bathroom also.
They first arrested him Feb. 3 for breach of probation — for breaching a court order telling him to stay away from Michael — and later charged him with aggravated assault, RCMP witnesses said.
The aggravated assault charge was raised to second degree murder following Michael’s death two weeks later.
Paul Culver, one of two Crown prosecutors handling the case, said in his opening statement that Peter “viciously beat her that day.”
And he said the Crown intends to support this with evidence that includes a large amount of blood found smeared and caked on the walls and floor of her bedroom, and a radiator cover from her bedroom that was caked with blood and matted hair.
Investigators also found bloody footprints and other smears elsewhere in the house.
Peter, however, in videotaped interviews with two RCMP investigators, said Michael’s head wound was likely caused by a fall and that he did not injure her.
His lawyer, James Morton, told court he chose not to ask for voir dire hearings on the admissibility of Peter’s statements to police.
In many trials, voir dire hearings are routinely held to decide if an accused person’s statements to police are consistent with the Charter of Rights.
And Morton also said Peter has waived his right to a preliminary inquiry.
In the first RCMP interview, an investigator tried to befriend Peter, telling the accused man that he respects him for being a hard worker who looks after his family.
But he told Peter there are serious gaps in his explanation of the events that led to Michael’s injuries.
“I know that there is more to the story… I just want your side,” the investigator said.
But Peter denied hurting her that day.
“I never done nothing to her. I respect her,” Peter said.
Peter said he and Michael had been drinking vodka together, and with friends, since the previous day.
He said he thinks Michael must have fallen and hurt her head. But he said all he knows is that she walked back and forth between the bathroom and bedroom three times and ended up in the tub with a wound above her eye.
“When I saw her in the bathroom, she was bleeding,” Peter said in the interview, telling the investigator that he called an ambulance two or three minutes later.
But the investigator pointed out that Michael’s hair, and Peter’s hair, was wet when police arrived at the house Feb. 3.
He pointed out that despite all the blood in the bedroom, there was no blood on Michael’s body when police found her.
And he said that blood takes a long time to dry, longer than the two or three minutes before Peter said he called an ambulance.
“I don’t know,” Peter said in response to repeated questions on those points.
A second interviewer, Const. Alan Beaton, who videotaped Peter at BCC, suggested to the accused man that he tried to use water to clean things up after Michael was injured, and that’s why his hair was wet when police photographed him at the house.
“You’re making this up, Pitseolak,” Beaton said.
But by then, the interview had broken down.
“I don’t want to talk anymore. I don’t like where this is going,” Peter said.
Soon after that, Peter walked out of the BCC interviewing room and headed back to his cell.
His trial is scheduled to continue all this week in Iqaluit.