Poet, songwriter and community activist Nicole “Nyki” Kish was convicted on March 1, 2011 of second degree murder for allegedly stabbing to death Ross Hammond in Toronto Canada, on August 8, 2007.
The physical altercation that resulted in Hammond’s death began when a women identified as Faith Watts allegedly asked for money from George Dranichak and Hammond. Dranichak testified at the preliminary hearing and at the trial that he and Hammond had responded to Watts with sexual derogatory remarks, such as telling her that she must perform sexual acts if she wanted the money. Dranichak admitted that this was the initial cause of the altercation.
The request for money quickly escalated for a exchange of heated words a large brawl that involved both Dranick, Hammond, Watts, Watt’s boyfriend, Kish, and other unnamed individuals, both males and females.
The brawl took place at the Toronto intersection of Queen and Bathurst, a very well lit area with shops and restaurants on both sides.
At the conclusion of the brawl, Hammond lay bleeding having sustained 5 stab wounds to the chest, and several others on the back. The one that took Hammond’s life was a cut that completely penetrated the anterior right ventricle of his heart. Nyki was the only other one who has been injured by the knife, with a stab wound to her arm.
The entirety of the incidents that occurred on August 8, 2007 can be viewed here: case overview
The difficulty surrounding this case revolves around the variety of recollections of what occurred that night. Prosecuting Crown, Warren Thompson, called upon 20 witnesses to testify, however, because of the nature of the incident, many of the recollections and accounts of what transpired were inconclusive and contradicting.
Few things were known for certain. The first one was that the knife that was used to stab Hammond was not Nykis, but former co-accused Faith Watts. Faith testified that it was indeed her knife and she produced the knife after becoming terrified for her life and the life of her boyfriend Doug, who was being beaten unconscious by Hammond at the time. She also testified that either Dranichak or Hammond quickly disarmed her.
The second piece of information that we know for certain is that the there was DNA evidence of both Nyki and Hammond on the knife; the same knife was used to stab Hammond and Nyki.
And lastly, the mot important piece of information is that there was only one miniscule piece of Hammond’s DNA present on Nyki’s sole of her shoe. Whereas, Watts had several spots of DNA on her boots and two spots on her shorts.
You can listen to the Mother of Nicole Kish speak out here.
There are several pieces of this case that do not add up and truly show a disconnection between what really happened and what Nyki is being changed with.
Detective Sergeant Gary Giroux was the detective assigned to the case. Giroux stated on the stand that he based his murder charges against Nyki because of the eyewitness testimonies of molly Stopford and Jonathan, both of which admitted later on in the trial that it was possible that they could be interchanging two, maybe three girls that she had seen involved in the brawl.
With all the confusion surrounding what actually happened that night through the eyes of the witnesses, would it not be easier and more accurate to view the surveillance tapes that were located on both sides of the street? The defense thought so, however, when asked to present the video footage in court it was determined that both tapes were either lost or recorded over while in police custody or under police supervision. One VHS tape from a Jewelry store was placed into an evidence box, and by the time it came into Giroux’s possession, the video was no longer present anywhere in the Toronto Police Department.
The second video, which was taken from One of a Kind Pasta, the only camera that could possibly see who stabbed Hammond, was recorded over by surveillance specialist Detective Olver, which was deemed unacceptable negligence on behalf of the Toronto Police Department.
The DNA test, and testimony from Faith Watts is another facet to this case that is very unusual. Justice Nordhiemer came to the conclusion that even though Watts testified to be the owner of the knife and had several DNA spots on her clothes, she was not the murderer, but rather, it was Nyki who had only one small piece of DNA on the side of her shoe. It seems very hard to believe that a woman can overpower a man and stab him five times in the chest with no contact, and no trace of DNA except for a minuscule spot on the sole of her shoe, all while already suffering a stab wound to her arm.
Nordheimer attributed the DNA findings as being the “limitations of Physical evidence,” and while he acknowledged that the knife belonged to Watts, it most likely changed hands several times before it was fatally used. Nordheimer focused less on the physical DNA evidence and more on Nyki being stabbed, stating that there is an “irresistible inference” that she must of killed Hammond.
The final interesting and inconclusive piece of information about this case is the “Unidentified Male.” There is a substantial amount of evidence that has come forward to suggest that the fatal stabbing that claimed Hammond’s life involved three males, not a female. Cam Bordignon testified that he recalled a man shout out, “you die tonight.” Shaun Park also witnessed this man pull up his shirt and showed off a stab wound that he received in his chest. Park recalled that the man said that it didn’t matter, that he had been stabbed in the chest 19 times.
This raises the question about the unidentified male’s motives and the possibility of a second knife that was present in the brawl. Watts testified that the knife that she originally produced that night was serrated, which is consistent to the wounds inflicted to Hammond’s Back. However, the wounds on Hammond’s chest, including the one that claimed his life, had little to no resembling characteristics. In fact, Dr. Pollan, the doctor who preformed the autopsy could not rule out the possible of a second knife.
Nyki was convicted and sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole for 12 years.
“…innocent people will continue to be damned to this until more Canadians are made aware of the workings of our judicial system and vital changes are made. I’m ashamed that our police forces tunnel vision to prosecute me against all obvious facts will leave many without true closure and equally ashamed that our media is not the public watchdog it ought to be.” -Nyki Kish
You can read more about this case at Injustice Anywhere or at Free Nyki. Both of these websites give a thorough account of the events on that occurred on August 8, 2011 and all actions following. These websites also offer collections of her music and writings. The best way to keep up on recent developments in Nyki’s life and trial is to look at the Free Nyki facebook page.