Man convicted in 2017 Wabasca homicide

Leader staff

On Nov. 19, 2020, Collin Noskiye was convicted for the second-degree murder of Dorium Yellowknee (33) in Wabasca. 

Noskiye is the second person convicted in relation to Yellowknee’s death. 

Earlier, Cindy Nanemahoo pled guilty to manslaughter.  

“Nanemahoo was prosecuted and convicted for her involvement which consisted of giving a knife to Mr. Noskiye,” said Justice J. Little in his written decision after Noskiye’s trial. 

Yellowknee was murdered in June 2017, says the original RCMP media release. At the time, Noskiye was 32 and Nanemahoo was 19. 

Noskiye was convicted after a trial before a judge alone in the Peace River Court of Queen’s Bench. The trial was Sept. 8 to 16, 2020. The decision was given on Nov. 19 in Edmonton, via WebEx, the court’s electronic video and phone conference. 

Uncontested facts

At the trial, various facts were uncontested, says the written decision, as follows:

On June 2, 2017, young people in Wabasca found Yellowknee dead in a pool of blood. He was in front of a residence a few doors down, from where a party had taken place the night before. 

The decision continues: an autopsy revealed that Yellowknee died from blood loss from multiple stab wounds. His throat was cut, which severed the jugular vein. Also, a major vein in his left arm had been cut. Both of these would have killed him in two to three minutes, says the ???? Another wound to his liver would have killed him in a few hours. He also had less serious cuts, stab wounds, and bruises from blunt force trauma. 

The judge described one wound in detail: “While he (the coroner) could not tell which was the entry and which the exit wound for the stab which went right through the arm, that wound had one clean slit-like end and one irregular end, as though the instrument used had been twisted while in the arm or the arm had twisted while the instrument was in it.”

Noskiye was arrested on June 5, said the decision. Photos taken at the time of his arrest show that he had injuries consistent with having been in a knife fight. 

Police also found a white and brown hunting knife hidden in a light over the back door of a nearby residence.  

Contested facts

What was disputed at trial was whether the Crown could prove that Noskiye dealt the fatal blows, and that he intended to kill Yellowknee. Noskiye was also charged with assault with a weapon of another individual (whom we’ll call ‘Z’). Noskiye was acquitted on this charge, but it is intertwined within the same crime for which he was convicted. 

(The following has been amended to only include the names of the homicide victim and the two people convicted of the crime). 

The decision says, “The Crown’s theory of the case is that, following an otherwise uneventful June evening with friends around a campfire, Yellowknee kissed Z’s girlfriend. Z took offence. He and Yellowstone argued. Yellowknee left, followed by Z, Nanemahoo, and the accused. Z, Nanemahoo, and the accused got into a scuffle with Yellowknee. It looked to be at an end when Yellowknee said something, a knife came out, and the accused stabbed Yellowknee numerous times, such that he bled to death. Z was cut in the neck when he tried to stop the stabbing.”

Conviction

Justice Little found Noskiye guilty of second decree murder in Yellowknee’s death, but acquitted him of assault with a weapon against Z.

Justice Little said, “I find it hard to believe that Z, who claimed he started the assault on the much larger, Yellowknee, and was punching and kicking him on the ground together with two other people, would seriously intervene when, as he said, a knife came out.”

“He may just have been caught in the crossfire, as it were, with a random swing as he was leaving Noskiye and Yellowknee, and that is not sufficient to prove that the cut was intentionally inflicted.”

This was not the case however in Yellowknee’s death. 

“As the Crown points out here,” says the decision, “the initial fight, if it can be called that when three people gang up on another, was over when Yellowknee first walked away.”

By following him and then using a weapon, the transcript continues, it’s plain enough that “Noskiye intended to kill him or to inflict such bodily harm that he knew was likely to cause death.” Also noted was Noskiye’s “failure to take any steps that might have saved his life.”

Sentence

Noskiye will receive a mandatory life sentence for second degree murder, but a sentencing hearing will happen to decide how long he will be ineligible for parole. The date of this is scheduled to be set on Nov. 30. 

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