EXHAUSTING: Killer causing families to endure ‘so much pain’

By Dave Baxter
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Winnipeg Sun

For Melissa Robinson, being in the same room as the man who admits to killing her cousin has and will continue to take a serious mental toll, as she waits to find out if Jeremy Skibicki will be found guilty or not criminally responsible in the killings of four Indigenous women.

“It is draining to be in his presence, it’s just mentally exhausting,” Robinson said Wednesday morning about accused serial killer Jeremy Skibicki.

Robinson spoke to the Winnipeg Sun Wednesday, as she prepared to attend the first day of Skibicki’s trial in a Winnipeg courtroom.

Skibicki, 37, faces four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of four Indigenous women, including Robinson’s cousin Morgan Harris, as well as Marcedes Myran, Rebecca Contois, and an unidentified woman community members have been calling Buffalo Woman.

His lawyers told court this week they will argue that he committed all four of the killings, but is not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder.

Robinson was in court last month for the jury selection process and she says when she saw Skibicki in person in the courtroom it was difficult to see what she felt was a “complete lack of emotion” from him, and at times difficult for family members of the four women to control their own emotions.

“He was just stone-faced,” she said. “In terms of emotion there was just nothing, there is no emotion whatsoever, and there we were sitting there just full of anger and we can’t say or do anything, and that is draining.

“But I keep reminding everyone we have to carry ourselves in a good way and be the bigger people in this, and pray to God that we get justice and that he never sets foot outside of a jail ever again.”

Skibicki’s lawyers will argue that he is not responsible for the murders, but Robinson said she does not believe his lawyers will have a strong case that he didn’t understand or appreciate that what he was doing was wrong when he committed the four killings.

Under Canadian law, if a person is found to have committed an act that constitutes an offence, but lacked the capacity to appreciate what they did due to a mental disorder at the time, the court can render that person Not Criminally Responsible on account of mental disorder and they wouldn’t be convicted or acquitted.

A person found either unfit to stand trial or NCR would be referred to a provincial or territorial review board, which would decide on a course of action, which could include everything from indefinite detention in a psychiatric hospital, to an absolute discharge, if that person is found to not be a significant threat to public safety.

Robinson has no knowledge of the evidence that will be presented during the trial but said she believes Skibicki’s intent for the killings was “racially motivated,” and that “he wanted to kill Indigenous women.”

“We believe he knew what he was doing,” she said. “I don’t think they will get very far with NCR.”

Should Skibicki be found guilty, Robison said she has been told the judge would delay a ruling on a sentence until victim impact statements are read in court, and that those statements would be kept on record and could be referred to if he is sentenced to prison and one day has an opportunity to apply for parole.

“These statements would reflect all that he has put us through, and everything he has put so many people through,” Robinson said. “He has robbed children of their mother and has caused so many people to endure so much pain to get to this point.

“No one should ever forget that.”