Joe-Bryan Ndikuriyo “snapped” when he felt cornered by the three men at the bar, he told a detective as he confessed to killing Solomon Odekunle on Nov. 6, 2016.
The jury in his second-degree murder trial was shown the 45-minute interview Ndikuriyo gave police that day after he was arrested at his girlfriend’s Lepage Avenue apartment about 12 hours after the killing.
He declined each time as police implored him to contact a lawyer, according to earlier testimony from the detectives who arrested him.
Now represented at trial by Oliver Abergel, Ndikuriyo has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, and not guilty to attempted murder after a fight outside Piper’s Bar & Grill on St-Laurent Boulevard around 2 a.m. that morning.
“You beat me to it … I would have eventually came (to turn myself in), you know?” Ndikuriyo begins in the interrogation room as Det. Chris Benson sends out the suspect’s order for a burger and fries.
He tells the detective he had been speaking on the phone with his mother in his London, Ont. hometown just as Benson and Det.-Sgt. Chris O’Brien arrived at the Carlington apartment that day and arrested him.
“She told me, ‘Everybody’s saying that you did something.’”
O’Brien testified the suspect seemed clear-headed and sober when he booked him at the Elgin Street station, though Ndikuriyo begins the interview by telling the detective he downed a few shots of gin earlier that morning after a night of drinking, and smoked a joint as he tried to sleep.
“I’m not trying to say that I was attacked … when you’re attacked you attack back,” he explains. “But the three people put me in a position where they’re telling me anytime now, anytime now.”
Odekunle was at the bar that night with his two roommates, Tunde Memudu and Garworh Myers, who testified at trial they were outside waiting for a cab to arrive and had got into a verbal exchange with Ndikuriyo’s girlfriend, when Ndikuriyo charged out the door and stabbed Odekunle in the neck with the jagged edge of a broken beer bottle. He then fought Myers as the two swung bottles and fists at each other. He fled, leaving a trail of blood for investigators to follow.
“I was not attacked,” Ndikuriyo repeats 20 minutes into the interview, around 4:30 p.m. on the day of the killing. “I was put in a position where I can’t ignore it. I can’t talk my way out … there’s nothing I can say to get out of it. I went forward.”
“You went for it?” the detective asks, and Ndikuriyo clarifies: “Forward … going forward means either they’re gonna put you in a corner or I’m gonna find my way out of a corner. And if I’m talking to you right now, it’s ‘cause I found my way out of the corner.”
Ndikuriyo said he and his girlfriend Rosie Mucyo, who has not testified at trial, arrived at the bar around 9 p.m. and he ordered two buckets of beer. He didn’t notice when the three men arrived, though they testified they got to the bar some time after midnight and hit the dance floor.
“Is this because they were hitting on Rosie?” Benson asks.
“No, man. It wasn’t even about that. I don’t know, man,” Ndikuriyo says as he begins to cry. “I don’t know what their problem was, OK? Me, I felt cornered.
“And the other guy, he kept excusing himself … I don’t know why he’s excusing himself. At one point, I’m like, yo, this guy’s actually … they’re looking for me, man.”
Ndikuriyo told Benson no matter where he went, they were “everywhere, man, everywhere.”
He recalled the three men standing outside the door.
“I’m not gonna lie to you. I went for them,” he tells the detective. “I had a bottle. I broke it, I went back outside. The one guy that was tryin’ to, you know, the one that was like menacing me the most … I went for him.
“The next guy, I turned to him and then I start fighting with him. And then the (third) guy, I don’t know, he ran. And the fight happened pretty quick and then I ran.
“I never seen these guys before. It’s not the first time I get into a fight … This time I’m by myself. I didn’t know what to do, OK?”
At one point he suggests investigators “go back and talk to everybody that knows me. I’m a nice guy, man.”
“You did what you thought was the right thing to do,” Benson tells him as the interview nears its end, the killer’s confession already in hand.
“No, I snapped, man,” Ndikuriyo replies. “I don’t know how it happened. It was very fast.”
Ndikuriyo at one point calls it “a big trap” as he insists, “I’m not a criminal person.
“Maybe after today maybe, yes. I hurt someone’s family and I cannot do nothing about that. I can only apologize … I feel when people back you into a corner … sometimes you can’t run. Tonight was one of those.”
The trial continues.
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