A man told court Thursday he was ready to accept punishment after he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his three-year-old daughter.
“I accept the punishment and am following the law of God,” Frank Nausigimana, 29, said through an American Sign Language interpreter.
Jemimah Bunadalian was found with two stab wounds, buckled in her car seat in her mother’s vehicle, last July.
An agreed statement of facts read into court said earlier that day, Nausigimana had approached the mother’s vehicle outside his daughter’s daycare in Winnipeg.
Nausigimana had a knife, forced himself into the car and directed the mother to drive, the statement of facts said.
The woman became distraught and when he told her to switch seats with him, she used the opportunity to run away, believing Nausigimana would not harm their daughter.
But Nausigimana stopped the car a short distance away and, soon after stopping, flagged down a passing vehicle and told the driver to call 911 because he had just killed his daughter, the agreed facts said.
The child was found with stab wounds to her heart and chest.
Nausigimana was charged with first-degree murder but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge in an agreement with Crown prosecutors.
When asked if he understood his plea, Nausigimana said, “Yes, I admit I am guilty.”
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for September.
The minimum sentence for second-degree murder is life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years. The Crown is requesting Nausigimana serve 19 years before he is eligible for parole, while the defence asked for 17 years.
An obituary for the girl said Jemimah made the most out of every second of her short life and would always say, “I love you.”
Her mother is also deaf and, as a one-year-old, Jemimah learned the alphabet in sign language.
Police have said Nausigimana and the mother had not had a relationship for some time and there had been no contact for many months before the girl was killed.
Nausigimana was previously convicted of a 2017 assault against the mother when she was pregnant. Court heard that he had tried to force an abortion by making her drink a liquid mixture of salt, water and vodka against her will.
The mother was granted a protection order that same year, but not long after she requested it be revoked. She and the father went to the same church and she wanted him to be able to attend services.
Nausigimana was sentenced to one year of supervised probation for the assault.
During that hearing, court was told he came to Canada as a refugee from Burundi when he was a teen. He lost his hearing when he had meningitis as a child.
Nausigimana’s mother moved to Ottawa and left him in foster care in Winnipeg. He remained in care until he was 21.