Man accused of Yellowknife murder refuses first court appearance
Morin Nitsiza refused to appear in court on Wednesday to answer to a charge of murder following the death of a man in Yellowknife last week.
Nitsiza, 29, “had a little bit of an outburst yesterday,” a corrections officer told the Territorial Court by video link from the North Slave Correctional Complex.
“He might be going through a few things,’ the officer stated.
Nitsiza had no lawyer, though he had spoken with a Legal Aid representative on Tuesday for 30 minutes.
Judge Garth Malakoe set Nitsiza’s next appearance for Thursday morning.
“The court will be expecting him to appear,” said the judge.
Nitsiza faces a murder charge in relation to the death of Jerry Akoak, who passed away at the city’s sobering centre on Friday morning.
Police were called to the shelter at around 7:30am on Friday after the 38-year-old was found unresponsive. RCMP stated in a news release the shelter itself was “not a factor” in his death, which occurred following an altercation nearby about which little detail has been released.
Jerry had moved to Yellowknife from Gjoa Haven, Nunavut in December 2019 “to start a new life,” he posted on social media at the time.
Dozens of friends and family members have shared tributes online since Jerry’s death. One man said Jerry had been “like a father” during his teenage years, while another described him as a “great friend” always capable of making someone laugh or smile.
Jerry was part of the city’s street community and enjoyed working as casual labour at Clean Sweep, a temporary employment service for individuals experiencing homelessness or underemployment.
A funeral service has yet to be finalized.
One of Jerry’s relatives was in court on Wednesday for sentencing in an unrelated matter. He said the death of his uncle added to the trauma he struggles with each day.
Court documents show Nitsiza has an extensive criminal record. He also uses several aliases, including spelling his first name either Morin or Moran.
Nitsiza was charged in 2017 in connection with a double stabbing in front of Yellowknife City Hall, the CBC reported at the time. He was found guilty of one count of aggravated assault in 2018.
Nitsiza is presumed innocent of the charge he faces until proven guilty.