Editor’s note: this article contains graphic details about a murder, which readers may find disturbing.
A judge has sentenced Steven Akittirq to life imprisonment with no chance of parole for 14 years after he killed his cousin in June 2014.
Akittirq, now 27, pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of Glenna Attagutalukutuk, 17, whose body was found with several devastating wounds, including a gunshot, at a cabin about four kilometres outside of Iglulik.
Justice Susan Cooper decided on the sentence on Feb. 23, in a decision that was circulated to the media last week.
The killing took place on prom night, which Attagutalukutuk attended. Afterwards, she and Akittirq set out by snowmobile for Hall Beach at about 3 or 4 a.m. after drinking alcohol.
Akittirq returned alone a few hours later. He was said to be quiet and shaking and his mood was off. He went to bed.
Later, Attagutalukutuk’s mother repeatedly asked Akittirq where her daughter was. He hid the truth from her.
Attagutalukutuk’s body was found at the cabin that day. She had suffered multiple severe injuries to her body, including some blunt force trauma, indicating the use of up to three weapons. One of those weapons was a firearm that sent a bullet through her arm, both of her lungs and pierced her heart.
“It was the gunshot wound that caused her death, which was immediate. Medical intervention could not have saved her,” the court decision read.
There were signs of sexual activity having occurred, and DNA evidence showed Akittirq was involved, but it cannot be determined whether the acts were consensual, according to the court case.
Attagutalukutuk was described as a good student and soccer player.
“She enjoyed being on the land. She loved children, she had many friends, she brought joy to her family and those around her,” the court decision read. “She was looking forward to graduating from high school and starting her life as an adult.”
A victim impact statement revealed that Attagutalukutuk’s parents are so hurt by her loss that it has led to alcohol abuse and social isolation, which has severely impeded their ability to raise Attagutalukutuk’s two younger siblings.
“It is my hope that over time the family will come to find strength in each other; that they will be comforted by the memory of Glenna and the time they had with her,” Cooper stated. “It is my hope that the family home will be returned to a safe, nurturing, and loving place; a home where Glenna’s siblings will be allowed to achieve the potential that was taken from Glenna. I hope that the proceedings this week will facilitate that process.”
Akittirq, it was noted in court, began abusing substances at an early age. He is a father to four children despite an adult life filled with alcoholism, drug abuse and violence. He has previous convictions for assaults on women and once served a federal sentence, for which he was granted parole, but it was later revoked. While in prison, he has had numerous run-ins with other prisoners and guards, which resulted in additional charges.
Based on precedent in Nunavut, Cooper had the discretion to make the prison sentence range from 10 to 18 years before Akittirq is eligible for parole. The Crown asked for 17 years while the defence recommended 13 years before parole is an option.
“Steven is still relatively young. He is not diagnosed as having a psychopathy. Prospects for some rehabilitation cannot be disregarded,” Cooper wrote in her decision. “When the time comes for Steven to be able to apply for parole, and if he chooses to apply, the parole board will be in a much better position than the court to make these determinations.”