Nunavut man accused in Igloolik murder makes first appearance
Steven Akittirq, 24, appears via video link from jail
An Igloolik man accused of murdering a young woman earlier this month faced a judge for the first time, at a video court appearance in Iqaluit June 17.
Steven Akittirq, 24, appeared in court via videoconference from Nunavut’s notorious Baffin Correctional Centre, where he’s being detained.
Akittirq faces one count of first-degree murder.
Police in Igloolik found a woman’s body just outside the community of 1,500 people on June 9.
After about 15 minutes of technical difficulties and a brief adjournment by a frustrated Justice Neil Sharkey, Akittirq appeared on two flat screen televisions inside courtroom three at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit.
The accused took a seat in a black leather office chair, and looked to his right before staring directly into the camera.
The young man wore a dark long-sleeved sweatshirt and sported a buzz cut. When asked if he needed an interpreter, he said, “No, no.”
At one point, Akittirq smiled very briefly on screen.
The purpose of Akittirq’s first court appearance was to set a date for lawyers to talk about a potential show-cause hearing — also known as a bail hearing. Lawyers in the courtroom set that date for July 15.
It’s not clear at this point if Akittirq will seek bail or not. He did not enter a plea — this usually happens at a later date.
Akittirq has been assigned Edmonton-based defence lawyer Laura Stevens, who was not present in court June 17.
Stevens has defended several high-profile cases in Nunavut.
Her last homicide case ended unsuccessfully in December 2013 when a jury found her client, Adrian Van Eindhoven, guilty of second-degree murder.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Crown prosecutor Marian Bryant said an autopsy has now been completed on the body of the Igloolik girl. Bryant also told the judge the RCMP are continuing their investigation in Igloolik.
Sharkey then explained to Akittirq what will happen at his next court appearance. Akittirq nodded and said “okay” before he walked off camera.
First-degree murder is the most serious form of homicide in Canada. The charge implies that an accused planned and deliberately murdered another person.
Those found guilty of first-degree murder face mandatory minimum sentence of life imprisonment, with no eligibility for parole until after 25 years of incarceration.