Warning: This story contains details that may be disturbing for some people.
A Winnipeg father who fatally stabbed his three-year-old daughter won’t be eligible for parole for 18 years, a judge ruled Thursday afternoon.
Frank Nausigimana, 29, pleaded guilty this past May to second-degree murder in the July 7, 2021 death of his daughter, Jemimah Bundalian.
“This is a tragic case of domestic violence that ended with the vicious murder of an innocent three-year-old child, Jemimah Bundalian,” Jennifer Mann, a Crown attorney told the court.
The offence carries an automatic life sentence and a minimum of no chance of parole for 10 years. The Crown was seeking a period of parole ineligibility of 19 years, while the defence argued for 17 years.
Nausigimana, who is a permanent resident who came to Canada with his mother in 2009 from the African country of Burundi, was led by two Sheriff’s officers into a Manitoba Court of King’s Bench sentencing hearing cuffed and shackled wearing a cross necklace.
Members of his estranged partner’s family were in attendance, including Jemimah’s grandparents on her mom’s side.
Family members brought two large-framed photos of the little girl into the courtroom.
Court heard Nausigimana went to Jemimah’s daycare on Atlantic Ave. on the morning of July 7, 2021, where he planned to confront his ex-partner Jasmine, the girl’s mom who had full custody of Jemimah, over custodial concerns.
The two had been in an on-again, off-again relationship but hadn’t been in contact for several months, court heard.
Mann told court Nausigimana, who’s deaf and communicates using American Sign Language, approached Jasmine’s vehicle as she was getting out of her car to drop off Jemimah and threatened her, telling her not to move or he would cut out her eyes.
“She was afraid of him,” Mann told the court. “He made her get back into the vehicle and he sat beside her in the front passenger seat.”
“Jemimah was still in the back seat, strapped into her car seat.”
Mann told the court Nausigimana ordered Jasmine to drive which she did until he instructed her to stop and switched seats with her.
“She was very fearful and unsure of his intentions at this point,” Mann told the court. “She didn’t think he would hurt her daughter.”
At Inkster Blvd. and Mandalay Dr., Jasmine jumped out of the vehicle and rolled onto a grass boulevard.
Mann told court Nausigimana got out of the vehicle and told Jasmine, “‘What are you going to do? Call the cops? Go ahead.”
Court heard he threw Jasmine’s phone on the ground and drove off with Jemimah.
Jasmine, who’s also deaf, was unable to call 911. She texted her brother who called 911 and they went searching for Jemimah.
Court heard Nausigimana drove the vehicle to a gravel road in the area of King Edward St. and Jefferson Ave.
“He then parked and used a kitchen paring knife with a three-and-a-half-inch blade to stab Jemimah at least two times in her chest as she remained seated in her car seat,” Mann told the court.
Nausigimana then flagged down a passing motorist and typed a message on his phone asking the driver to call 911 which Mann told the court stated words to the effect of, “I’m deaf. I killed my daughter.”
Nausigimana was taken into custody and police officers located Jemimah suffering from two stab wounds to her chest. She was rushed by ambulance to Children’s Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Albert Bundalian, Jemimah’s grandfather, told the court in an impassioned victim impact statement Nausigimana took away her dreams and her bright future.
“My granddaughter was our life,” Albert told the court. “She gave back joy, happiness and much love.”
“We’ll never see her grow and witness all her potential. Our angel, Jemimah, doesn’t deserve what happened to her.”
Albert has nightmares and wakes up with his heart shattered and told Nausigimana in court he feels guilty he couldn’t protect his granddaughter.
“You are a danger to society and should never be out of prison for the rest of your life,” Albert told the court. “Still, that is not enough because it will never bring back our Jemimah’s life.”
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