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Woman pleads guilty to murder
Joyce Kringuk killed her 'best friend'

Peter Worden
Northern News Services
Published Monday, November 12, 2012

It was a "terrible mix of variables" on the evening of April 8, 2008, that led to the shooting death of Joani Kringayark in Repulse Bay, said defence council Peter Harte.

Having previously pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murder of 47-year-old Kringayark, Joyce Kringuk, now 32, changed her plea to guilty on Nov. 5 at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit.

Both Harte and Crown attorney Jeannette Gevikoglu agreed in a statement of facts that Kringuk and her partner had been drinking that night when a violent argument erupted, and Kringuk shot Kringayark in the head with a high-powered rifle that he was using for his job as a wildlife officer. Police received an anonymous call around 9 p.m. leading them to the scene. When they arrived, Kringuk said she'd killed her "best friend."

In the courtroom Tuesday, with the victim's family and friends watching via webcam from Repulse Bay, Crown and defence lawyers made closing submissions to Justice Robert Kilpatrick. The crime carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison with eligibility for parole after 10 years. Gevikoglu said Kringuk does not have a criminal record, and that by pleading guilty she had spared witnesses having to relive the trauma of the event by testifying in a trial.

In the defence's closing submission, Harte, too, asked that the court adopt its own rationale concerning pleading guilty and noted Kringuk's "demonstrably flawed" memory of events. He also asked that Kilpatrick probe to a significant extent Kringuk's background, which involves binge drinking from age eight, being raped multiple times, undergoing psychiatric treatment for depression, bi-polar disorder and being treated with anti-psychotic medication, as well as being medically diagnosed with brain damage from solvent abuse.

Kringuk's father was physically abusive and her brother, two sisters, cousin and uncle committed suicide.

Harte said Kringuk was "genetically loaded" for psychiatric problems and "one would have to work hard to find a more vulnerable individual." Harte said these factors are not an excuse, but should be considered in sentencing.

Harte also described the dysfunctional, on-again-off-again relationship between Kringuk and Kringayark, who was twice her age when they first met. He said accusations of infidelities moved in both directions, and when drinking they were the basis for physical altercations.

Harte suggested when alcohol was poured into the mix, Kringayark who himself had also been diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder and auditory hallucinations, was not aware of the impact of his insults. It was "a perfect storm fueled by alcohol," said Harte, adding a firearm was left unlocked and loaded next to the water tank.

Finally, Harte closed by saying harsh sentencing and "institutional justice" has not been a deterrent in the territory. Cases such as these, he said, raise important issues and simple punishment would not address what took place or why it took place. He added, because half of the community is related to the deceased, Kringuk will almost certainly never return to Repulse Bay.

Kringuk cried in court as she apologized. She will undergo a mandatory DNA order, a weapons prohibition as well as forfeiture and destruction of the rifle in question. She has been in police custody since the night of the murder.

Kilpatrick reserved his sentence, saying he understands the importance of urgency and will produce a judgment within two weeks.

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