‘I passed out’ Hikoalok claims to have no memory of May 2018 sexual assault and murder of church librarian

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Tyler Hikoalok has claimed to have no memory of the « violent » sexual assault and brutal death of church librarian Elisabeth Salm on May 24, 2018, as the accused killer moved from the prison box to the bar. witnesses on Tuesday to testify in his own defense.

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« I passed out. I don’t remember the rest of the day, » Hikoalok said under questioning by his lawyer Michael Smith as his first-degree murder trial resumed after a long delay.

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Hikoalok had conveyed a similar account to officers who arrested him on May 27, three days after the attack, when he was told he was charged with murder and sexual assault.

‘What’s wrong with me,’ he told the arresting officer, according to previous testimony, and claimed he had been ‘drunk unwell’ for a few days earlier.

“I didn’t know I had killed anyone,” he told the officer.

Hikoalok was confronted with these statements during Tuesday’s cross-examination by Assistant Crown Attorney Brian Holowka.

« You knew there was a horrible incident in the Christian Science reading room and you were involved in it, » Holowka said, which Hikoalok quietly denied.

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« You knew exactly the incident you were arrested for, » Holowka said, and accused Hikoalok of trying to « evade » explanations to police.

Hikoalok said « No » again, as he often spoke in a low voice, seemed downcast at times, and frequently asked the attorney to repeat questions, often offering one-word answers in response.

He told the court that he was born in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, and grew up in foster homes before moving to Ontario at the age of nine, where he lived in several foster homes. group until he moved to Ottawa a few years later.

« Tyler’s life before this incident was not easy, and some of that came out of the evidence you’ve heard before, » defense attorney Brook Laforest told the jury in his opening remarks. « At the age of 18, he had already suffered a trauma that would otherwise last several lifetimes. »

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Hikoalok said he had no relationship with his biological parents, had never met his father, and had started drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana at a young age during house calls in Nunavut.

« It was hard growing up, being bullied a lot, » Hikoalok said.

Hikoalok had attended Debbie Campbell Learning Academy, an alternative school in downtown Ottawa, for about three years and lived at various shelters and at the Shepherds of Good Hope in the months leading up to the attack.

According to his testimony, Hikoalok woke up at a friend’s house on the morning of May 24 and drank the remains of a 26-ounce bottle of vodka he found in his backpack. He left and walked down Rideau Street, where he met a group of friends, then met another friend on the street who had a full bottle of rum.

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Hikoalok said the friend emptied some rum into a plastic water bottle, which he took with him as he looked for a place to drink.

« I drank the rest and then threw the bottle away, » Hikoalok said after finding a spot « near a hotel on Rideau Street. »

He claimed to have no recollection of anything else that happened that day.

The next thing he remembered, he told his attorney, was « waking up behind the Vanier bus station. »

Hikoalok saw surveillance video and agreed that the character « looks like me » as he is seen approaching the Christian Science Library at 9:14 a.m. that day and then leaving through a separate exit more than a minute. hour later.

« You’re not staggering…you’re not falling, » Holowka said as he confronted Hikoalok with the video and said he showed no signs of intoxication.

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« You are not like anyone who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, » the prosecutor said.

Hikoalok also showed no signs of being drunk when he showed up at his old school around 11 a.m. that day, where school staff previously testified that he hadn’t noticed « anything bad. » ‘abnormal’ in Hikoalok’s behavior.

Hikoalok testified that he has no memory of visiting the school that day, no memory of talking with a teacher, making calzones in the cafeteria, or joking around with other students. He testified that he had no recollection of what happened in the reading room where Salm was killed.

« I don’t know, » he said. « I have no memory…I didn’t know I had killed anyone. »

The trial had already heard three weeks of evidence and testimony called by the Crown when it was adjourned in late September. The two-month delay was partially explained by Laforest in the defense’s opening address to the jury.

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Hikoalok was examined during the adjournment by Dr. Julian Gojer, forensic psychiatrist at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, who conducted a psychiatric evaluation of Hikoalok in recent weeks, Laforest told the jury.

The psychiatrist, who will also be called by the defense to testify this week, interviewed Hikoalok several times and ordered brain scans to help him form an opinion.

Gojer, the defense argued, would have to testify that the scans showed signs of neurological dysfunction, likely fetal alcohol syndrome.

The psychiatrist will explain the impact of the dysfunction on a person’s decision-making and other cognitive skills, Laforest said, and he will also explain the « susceptibility to blackouts in people with fetal alcohol syndrome. » .

Hikoalok is due to continue his testimony on Wednesday.


  1. Tyler Hikoalok has been charged with first degree murder in the 2018 death of Elisabeth Salm.

    Tyler Hikoalok murder trial set to resume Tuesday as case moves to defense

  2. A 2018 file photo shows the exterior of the Christian Science reading room in a building on Laurier Avenue after the fatal attack on Elisabeth Salm.


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