Wracked with anger, man who killed daughter blames ex and her family

Frank Nausigimana admits he killed his three-year-old daughter Jemimah Bundalian while enraged, stabbing her twice in the chest, but in a courtroom Thursday he blamed the child’s grieving mother and family.

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Frank Nausigimana admits he killed his three-year-old daughter Jemimah Bundalian while enraged, stabbing her twice in the chest, but in a courtroom Thursday he blamed the child’s grieving mother and family.

“God is the one who understands why things happen,” Nausigimana told court through an American Sign Language interpreter. “I just wanted to have equal custody of my daughter. I pray to God to forgive my ex and her family for what they did to me.”

Nausigimana, 29, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the July 2021 slaying and was sentenced Thursday to life in prison with no chance of parole for 18 years.

While Nausigimana’s guilty plea is considered a sign of remorse, his comments to the court “continue to illustrate a concerning lack of insight and victim blaming,” said King’s Bench Justice Joan McKelvey.

“The killing of one’s child falls under the worst types of offences imaginable,” she said. Jemimah was an “innocent victim” murdered by her father “to inflict the ultimate pain on his ex-partner.”

GOFUNDME / FREE PRESS FILES

Frank Nausigimana admits he killed his three-year-old daughter Jemimah Bundalian while enraged, stabbing her twice in the chest.

Jemimah’s murder has left her family broken, her grandfather Albert Bundalian told court, his voice seething with unrestrained pain.

“All of her life she gave us joy, happiness and love,” he shouted, looking at Nausigimana in the prisoner’s box. “Every day I wake up, my heart shatters more.

“You are a danger to society and you should never be out of prison for the rest of your life,” he said. “And that is still not enough.”

Two large portraits of the smiling child were placed in the jury box facing Nausigimana, who in the prisoner’s box, as Crown and defence lawyers made their submissions.

Court was told Jemimah’s mother, who is also deaf, had sole custody of the child since birth, which Nausigimana had bitterly contested. At the time of the killing, Nausigimana and the girl’s mother had not been in contact for six months after she reported his “harassing” behaviour to police.

On the morning of the killing, Nausigimana left a note for his landlord in his rented room in which he predicted he’d be arrested.

“Police arrest me because I have a problem with custody issue not successful,” he wrote before asking his landlord to donate his clothes to a thrift shop. “If you can’t do this, let me know please. I don’t know how long (it will take) to be released from jail.”

“It was clear from the outset that day from that letter that Mr. Nausigimana was anticipating he was going to do something that would lead to jail,” said Crown attorney Jennifer Mann.

Court heard Nausigimana was waiting in his car at 9 a.m. when Jemimah’s mother arrived to drop off Jemimah at her Atlantic Avenue daycare. As the woman got out her vehicle to remove Jemimah from the back seat, Nausigimana approached and told her to get back in the car or he would cut her eyes out with a knife.

“(The woman) was crying hysterically and Mr. Nausigimana told her to calm down and drive,” Mann said.

“It was clear from the outset that day from that letter that Mr. Nausigimana was anticipating he was going to do something that would lead to jail.”–Crown attorney Jennifer Mann

A short time later, Nausigimana told the woman to pull over and he took the wheel.

Nausigimana had driven to the area of Inkster Boulevard and Mandalay Drive when the woman opened her door and jumped out of the moving car, rolling onto the boulevard.

“It was her intention to try and get help… She didn’t think he would hurt her daughter,” Mann said.

Nausigimana stopped the car, got out and taunted the woman before getting back in the vehicle and driving away. He pulled over on a gravel road near King Edward Street and Jefferson Avenue, where he stabbed Jemimah two times in the chest with a paring knife.

Minutes later, Nausigimana flagged down a motorist, and showed him a text message saying he had just killed his daughter and to call 911.

MIKE DEAL / FREE PRESS FILES

Nausigimana pulled over on a gravel road near King Edward Street and Jefferson Avenue, where he stabbed Jemimah two times in the chest with a paring knife.

Questioned later by police, Nausigimana said he didn’t mean to kill his daughter and that he “made a mistake,” Mann said.

A forensic assessment found no evidence Nausigimana suffered from a mental illness that would support a finding he was not criminally responsible for the killing.

Court heard Nausigimana told doctors he was upset the girl’s mother and her family opposed his bid for shared custody. He said his plan was not to kill his daughter, but to kill her mother or cut out her eyes if she continued to deny him access to Jemimah.

“I didn’t want to give (her) the power to control me,” Nausigimana is quoted as saying in a forensic report provided to court. “I gave them chance after chance and my patience was gone.”

“If they had approved me to see the baby, Jemimah would be alive and I would not have killed her,” he said.

“My client came from a world where the men could do anything — a very different way of looking at the world.”–Defence lawyer Mike Cook

Nausigimana was born in Burundi and immigrated to Canada with his mother in 2009. His mother “did not acclimatize to Canada well” and started drinking, resulting in Nausigimana being placed in foster care, defence lawyer Mike Cook told court.

Cook said Nausigimana had a “horrific upbringing” in Burundi, marked by “civil unrest, war, killing and gangs.”

When Nausigimana came to Canada, he brought with him the attitude that women were subservient to men, Cook said.

“My client came from a world where the men could do anything — a very different way of looking at the world,” he said.

“He wanted unfettered access to (his child). It was difficult for him not to have that and he was angry.”

In 2019, Nausigimana was convicted of assaulting the girl’s mother after he forced her to drink a concoction he thought would induce an abortion.

Nausigimana is not a Canadian citizen and will face almost certain deportation when he is released from prison.

dean.pritchard@freepress.mb.ca

Dean Pritchard

Dean Pritchard
Courts reporter

Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.

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