Psychiatric assessment ordered for accused in child slaying
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/07/2021 (401 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Winnipeg man accused of abducting and killing his three-year-old daughter last week will undergo a psychiatric assessment for criminal responsibility.
Frank Nausigimana, 28, made a virtual appearance before Judge Robert Heinrichs in mental health court Thursday afternoon. His lawyers requested the judge order a criminally not-responsible assessment — a test used to determine whether an accused was aware of their alleged wrongdoing when an incident occurred.
Nausigimana was arrested July 7 and charged with first-degree murder, after allegedly abducting Jemimah Bundalian, 3, from her mother at knifepoint and stabbing the child inside a vehicle in the city’s North End.
Police said Jemimah was found at Jefferson Avenue and King Edward Street, where paramedics performed CPR in an effort to save her life but the child died from her injuries.
Nausigimana was reportedly estranged from his daughter at the time, but had requested joint custody of the child just months prior, according to court records.
The Feb. 12 request for “periods of care and control” of Jemimah was approved, though a request for “mutual decision-making authority” with the child’s mother, Jasmine Bundalian, was denied. Nausigimana was convicted of assaulting Bundalian in 2017, when she was pregnant with Jemimah.
Nausigimana has been held in the Winnipeg Remand Centre since his arrest. No trial dates have been set, and the allegations have not been proven in court.
During a mental health court session — a weekly court sitting offering “pre-sentence intensive services and supports to persons whose criminal involvement is a direct result of their mental illness,” according to the Manitoba Courts website — Nausigimana’s lawyer, Ethan Pollock, requested the judge order the test to assess “whether or not Mr. Nausigimana can be found criminally responsible” for his alleged actions.
The judge and Crown agreed to the order, and Nausigimana was placed on the wait list for admission to the Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre’s psychiatric unit.
Criminal responsibility assessments have seen significant delays in recent years, according to sources in both the legal and medical system.
While the Criminal Code of Canada mandates a report on the order to be returned within 30 days of the order, a shortage of beds and forensic psychiatry staff has led to significant backlogs of assessments, according to HSC medical director for forensic psychiatry Adrian Hynes.
During an unrelated court session Wednesday, Hynes said the unit operates with just 15 beds, serving several different patient needs, and currently employs just three psychiatrists. Wait lists for criminal responsibility assessments can last for several months.
Julia-Simone Rutgers is a climate reporter with a focus on environmental issues in Manitoba. Her position is part of a three-year partnership between the Winnipeg Free Press and The Narwhal, funded by the Winnipeg Foundation.
Updated on Friday, July 16, 2021 7:36 AM CDT: Adds punctuation