A man from Behchokǫ̀ will remain in the territory for manslaughter
Colton Migwi will remain in the Northwest Territories to serve his sentence for killing his brother.
Colton, 32, pleaded guilty to manslaughter last December after his brother Andrew Migwi was found dead at their Behchokǫ̀ home on March 7, 2020.
Migwi was initially charged with murder, but later pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter as part of a plea deal.
Judge Andrew Mahar sentenced Colton on Wednesday afternoon in the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories after hearing submissions from lawyers earlier in the morning.
Mahar sentenced Colton to serve a total of six years in custody.
Considering the time he has served before sentencing since his arrest in March 2020, Colton’s remaining sentence is two years less a day.
This term allows Colton to remain at the North Slave Correctional Complex [NSCC] in Yellowknife. Once released, Colton will be on probation for three years.
Crime of « extreme and brutal violence », says Crown
Mahar’s sentence falls between the arguments of Crown attorneys and the defense.
Crown prosecutor Duane Praught suggested an eight-year sentence, pointing to the « extreme and brutal violence » of Colton’s attack on his brother.
In the agreed statement of facts, the court heard that Colton attacked and stabbed Andrew with a hunting knife. Reading the agreed facts, Praught told the court that Andrew died within minutes.
The circumstances of the start of the attack are not known. The agreed statement of facts described an inebriated Andrew entering the store where Colton worked in Behchokǫ and taunting him. On the way home, according to the documents, Colton told a friend he had to « take care of his drunken brother. »
There are no details on when Colton started drinking, but he was also heavily intoxicated later that night.
Defense attorney Peter Harte said Colton should serve the remaining 16 months in custody. He said he had planned to submit a sentence of two years less a day at a hearing originally scheduled for June, but that hearing was postponed for Praught to seek an order for psychiatric evaluation. Colton then refused to take the assessment.
Harte said his 16-month submission represents the time Colton spent in custody between June and Wednesday’s hearing.
« Given the level of violence [in the crime] », said Mahar, he »[doesn’t] think [he] can go below six years. »
Center for debate on mental health problems
Harte told the court that Colton had had mental health issues since January 2007, although he was never diagnosed.
Documents show that Colton suffers from auditory hallucinations who sometimes tell him to kill.
The court heard Colton was medicated and prescribed risperidone, trazodone and citalopram, all treatments for mood disorders.
At the time of the crime, Colton was not taking his medication and police seized empty bottles of each prescription during their search of the house where Andrew was killed.
Praught argued that the judge should not pay special attention to Colton’s mental health conditions since he refused the evaluation.
« We don’t know what condition, if any, he was suffering from at the time of the offence, » Praught said.
In his decision, Mahar said Colton’s mental health could not be ignored.
He said the homicide could not be « the result of [Andrew] giving him a hard time at the store », but was the result of a « significant amount of alcohol and underlying medical conditions ».
« The Loss of Two Sons »
Colton and Andrew’s mother, father and grandmother have all submitted victim impact statements about how they have been coping since the crime.
Both parents described the feeling of having lost their two sons that day.
“Losing two sons at the same time was a real painful struggle,” their mother Georgina wrote.
She said she was sad to think about the loss of her eldest son Andrew and how her three daughters will grow up without him.
She also said she was « concerned about Colton and his future. »
« I forgive him completely and pray for him every day that he forgives himself and gets the best help available in the Northwest Territories. »
In her statement, Georgina asked the judge to think of her and her family when deciding Colton’s sentence.
She acknowledged Colton’s mental illness and said that with support « he can start to help himself ».
She asked for a sentence that would keep Colton in the Northwest Territories so the family could « help him heal and go home a better man. »
While medicated, the offender can be trusted: defense
Harte told the court that since his incarceration in 2020, Colton has been taking his medication.
He also said he worked in the NSCC kitchen.
He said the fact that the administration trusts Colton to be surrounded by knives and other kitchen utensils proves that « on drugs, he can be trusted to behave as society expects. how he behaves ».
Although the court has no jurisdiction to compel offenders to take their medication, during Colton’s three years of probation he will have to tell his probation officer if he stops taking his medication. In the event that he goes without medication, he must report to his probation officer daily.
Addressing the court, Colton said he was « very sorry for [his] Shares. »
« I will do my best to heal. »