A Winnipeg man has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the shocking stabbing death of his three-year-old daughter.
Frank Nausigimana, 29, entered his plea before Queen’s Bench Justice Joan McKelvey during a brief hearing Thursday morning.
Asked if he understood he was waiving his right to a trial, Nausigimana, through an American Sign Language interpreter, told McKelvey: " Yes, I accept the punishment and I am following the law of God."
"I’ve decided that I am going to pray," Nausigimana said. "I admit I am guilty."
Jemimah Bundalian died July 7, 2021, after Nausigimana stabbed her two times in the heart and chest.
Crown attorney Debbie Buors provided court with a brief summary of the circumstances leading up to Jemimah’s death. Court heard the girl’s mother was parked outside the girl’s daycare, preparing to drop her off when Nausigimana, armed with a knife, forced his way into her vehicle.
Nausigimana ordered the woman to drive as Jemimah sat strapped to her car seat in the rear of the vehicle.
"At some point, the mother being distraught and hysterical, was unable to drive," Buors said. "The accused told her to move over to the passenger seat (and) took control of the vehicle."
The mother jumped out of the vehicle without her daughter, thinking Nausigimana would not harm her, Buors said.
Nausigimana drove a short distance away before pulling over and flagging down a car. He "asked them to call 911, as he had just killed his daughter," Buors said.
When police arrived a short time later "Jemimah was still in her car seat, she was suffering from two stab wounds," Buors said. "She was pronounced dead shortly thereafter."
Nausigimana "accepts full responsibility for his daughter’s death," defence lawyer Mike Cook told the Free Press outside court.
"He is suffering as a father and a man over what happened that fateful day," Cook said. "He prays daily that his daughter is safe in heaven and sends his love to her."
Police at the time said Nausigimana and Jemimah’s mother broke up soon after she was born and had not been in contact for several months.
Nausigimana remains in custody and will return to court Sept. 29 for sentencing. Court at that time will be provided with more details of the killing, as well as a forensic report detailing Nausigimana’s mental state at the time.
The minimum sentence for second-degree murder is life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years. Court heard the Crown will recommend Nausigimana not be allowed to apply for parole for at least 19 years, while the defence recommended a 17- year period of parole ineligibility.
Court records show Nausigimana was convicted in 2019 of assaulting the girl’s mother two years earlier, after he forcefully attempted to induce her to abort their child.
Nausigimana was driving the woman home from the grocery store when he pulled over in the area of Huron Avenue and McPhillips Street where they "had a conversation about what to do about the pregnancy," Crown attorney Matthew Armstrong told court at the time.
The conversation turned heated, with Nausigimana trying to convince the woman to have an abortion. When she refused, Nausigimana held the woman down in her seat and tried to convince her to drink from a water bottle he had brought with him "filled (with) a then-unknown liquid," Armstrong said.
The woman "inadvertently swallowed" some of the liquid, at which point Nausigimana stopped the assault and the woman ran away.
The woman rushed to Seven Oaks Hospital, where, after "a battery of tests," it was confirmed there was no threat to her pregnancy, Armstrong said.
Nausigimana was arrested three weeks later and admitted he had mixed the ultimately harmless liquid concoction in the belief it would induce an abortion.
Provincial court Judge Tim Killeen sentenced Nausigimana to one year supervised probation.
In 2012, the Free Press wrote about a group of deaf students, including Nausigimana, who were learning how to mime. At the time, the 19-year-old was attending the School for the Deaf, and said he was a refugee from Burundi.
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.