Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Not legally responsible for killing

Believed he was helping sister

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A Manitoba man who killed his eight-year-old sister while in the throes of a psychotic delusion -- believing he was sparing her a painful future brought on by an alien takeover of Earth -- has been found not criminally responsible.

Kyle Bighetty's mental illness made him unable to appreciate what he was doing when he choked Skye Midnight Sun Bighetty to death in the basement of a Pukatawagan home on June 29, 2013, Justice Colleen Suche concluded.

Suche's ruling Wednesday in The Pas Court of Queen's Bench brings an end to a case shrouded in mystery and speculation since news broke of Skye's killing and RCMP announced a homicide investigation was underway in the community, located about 800 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

Both Crown and defence agreed Wednesday Bighetty, 21, was not criminally responsible at the time he killed Skye, the youngest of his five siblings. RCMP charged him with second-degree murder for her death.

Manitoba's Criminal Code Review Board takes responsibility for Bighetty's custody and medical treatment. The board will hold a hearing to determine his fate within 90 days.

He's been in custody at hospitals or at The Pas jail since his arrest shortly after Skye was rushed to the Pukatawagan nursing centre unconscious and not breathing.

'He was told by the aliens that he needed to kill Skye because she was going to grow up to be a prostitute'

-- court documents

Skye's mother, Linda Colomb, told RCMP she was cooking in the kitchen when Skye went downstairs to get some bug spray, said an agreed statement of facts presented to Suche. When she didn't return, Colomb went to check on her and found Bighetty cradling his unconscious sister in his arms.

"She asked (Bighetty), who appeared to have been crying, what he did, but he did not answer," the statement of facts said.

He was arrested by RCMP under the Mental Health Act shortly after Skye was pronounced dead. He had what appeared to be a bleeding nose and fresh scratches on his cheeks.

Police attempted to take a formal statement from him at that time but his "nonsensical" statements and hand gestures made it impossible.

During a search of the basement, RCMP found a small blood stain on a mattress, which was confirmed to belong to Skye.

In Bighetty's bedroom, RCMP came across a handwritten list on the floor.

The second item stated, "strangle sister," and had a check mark next to it, the court facts state.

It was examined and three of Bighetty's fingerprints were found on it.

Bighetty wasn't interviewed until Sept. 6, 2013, after a murder charge was formally laid and he was rearrested. He told police that before the killing, he'd been communicating with aliens through notes he was writing and voices in his head.

"He was told by the aliens that he need to kill Skye because she was going to grow up to be a prostitute," the agreed court facts stated.

"He was also told that she was going to be the last person alive and that by killing her he was saving her from future pain."

He admitted choking Skye and not attempting to revive her "so she would die," the statement said.

Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Thambirajah Balachandra reported her death was "consistent with suffocation."

On the day of Skye's killing, RCMP learned from both parents that Bighetty appeared to have been suffering from mental-health issues and had been "acting strangely" for weeks, sometimes holding his hands to his ears.

His father said he'd seen Bighetty appear to be talking to, and yelling at, people -- but nobody was there.

Efforts to get him to go to the nursing station for help failed, as Bighetty would run away, the statement of facts said.

A forensic psychologist's report tabled in court suggests Bighetty's mental health declined dramatically in early 2013, after he was released from a short jail stay for torching an abandoned house and being convicted of arson.

Hospital records show he had been assessed by a psychiatrist and prescribed an antipsychotic medication while in custody but stopped taking it after he was released in March 2013.

Since his arrest, he's back on medication and shows "reasonable insight" into his mental illness, Dr. Jeffrey Waldman's report in support of the not-criminally-responsible finding said.

Bighetty's perceptions of reality were "significantly reduced" by his psychosis, said Waldman. "Mr. Bighetty has a clear diagnosis of schizophrenia," Waldman stated. "(He) demonstrates appropriate guilt and remorse at this time."

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 20, 2014 A3

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