A Winnipeg man charged with killing his own daughter had previously been convicted of assaulting the child’s pregnant mother and was accused of trying to force her to get an abortion, court records show.
Frank Nausigimana, 28, is charged with first-degree murder after police allege he stabbed his three-year-old daughter to death just minutes after abducting the young girl from her mother at knifepoint Wednesday morning.
Court records show it’s not the first time Nausigimana has been accused of violent behaviour.
Nausigimana was convicted of assault for a 2017 incident involving the child’s mother, whom Global News has decided not to name, when she was pregnant.
About a month after the alleged assault, the woman, who along with Nausigimana is hearing impaired, filed for and was granted a three-year protection order.
At the time, the mother said she and Nausigimana were not in a romantic relationship, but were “best friends” and had known each other for roughly seven years.
The woman told the court that the two were in a car together when Nausigimana attacked her with a liquid chemical in an attempt to kill the baby.
“It was — well, I don’t know what his plan was, but he had some sort of chemical, a poison of some sort, a liquid, and he wanted me to smell it,” she said through an ASL Interpreter, according to a transcript of a hearing on April 3, 2017.
“He wasn’t listening to me. I told him no, but he forced it on me.
“He put his hands against me and forced it into my face and I realized that what his intention was, was he wanted me to smell it so it would actually kill the baby.”
She said once the “chemical was empty” Nausigimana got out of the car, came to the other side, grabbed her by the arm and seemed to leave her alone.
She then left and walked to her parent’s house before going to the emergency room at Seven Oaks Hospital. Medical staff checked her over and said she and the baby were fine, court heard.
The woman testified Nausigimana had said he wanted her to have an abortion when he first learned she was pregnant.
“That was the first thing he said. He said he didn’t want to have anything to do with it and then he thought, yes, he wanted to abort the baby and he started to plan and I had told him, no, I don’t want to. But he said he wants to — he was going to force me to, and then he tried to,” she said, according to the transcripts.
“Frank had said his only goal was to abort the baby, and if I lose the baby, I know Frank had said that he’d stop following me or stalking me.”
But just a few months later, the protection order was revoked at the mother’s request because, she told court, she’d forgiven him.
“I accepted his forgiveness. He won’t hurts me again as he will leave me alone. I trust him that he won’t do it again to me … I will take care of child alone,” she wrote in a statement filed July 12, 2017.
“I just want us to be able to go to church together, bible study together, to be able to socialize with one another. The way it is right now it’s created a very awkward situation and it doesn’t seem normal.”
At a Thursday press conference, Winnipeg police spokesperson Const. Jay Murray called the child’s death “unbelievably horrific.”
He said the child was likely injured within minutes of police being called, and that the mother wasn’t physically hurt in the incident.
“I don’t believe she was seriously physically injured. But I always am hesitant to say that she wasn’t injured because I think there’s a psychological component here.
“You think of the pain that she endured at the time of the incidents, the stress — and even afterwards as she’s learning to cope with the loss of her daughter.”
“So I’m hesitant to say that she wasn’t injured, because I think this is going to take a long time for her to recover from this — if she ever does.”
Police said Nausigimana was taken into custody just before 9:45 a.m., at King Edward Street and Jefferson Avenue, outside a parked car.
Officers found the injured child inside the car and started providing first aid. She was rushed to hospital in critical condition, where she died of her injuries.
Global News has since confirmed that the car belonged to the child’s mother, but police have released no further details. Police have previously said the girl’s mother had been parked after driving with the child when a man approached them and abducted the child at knifepoint.
Accused wanted joint custody, court records show
Murray said the relationship between the mother and father appears to have ended soon after the girl was born, and there had been no contact between the estranged father and the mother and daughter for months.
He said Thursday police are continuing to investigate the circumstances of the father’s estrangement.
According to court records obtained by Global News, Nausigimana started the process of applying for joint custody in February of this year.
He said he wanted “mutual decision making authority” with the mother, along with specific periods of care and control. He was also seeking an order for her to be unable to leave the province with his daughter without his permission.
Court documents show the mother responded in March to say she would be open to allowing him some care and control, but was against joint custody and did not want Nausigimana to be able to have input in decision making in regard to the child.
She also went further to ask the court for sole custody of the little girl and ask that Nausigimana only have very limited supervised access to the child.
“It is not possible for the parties to co-parent effectively and joint custody would not be appropriate for the circumstances,” she said in a statement to the court March 5 of this year.
Court also heard that Nausigimana came to Canada as a refugee from Burundi when he was a teen. He lost his hearing when he had meningitis as a child.
His mother moved to Ottawa and left him in foster care in Winnipeg. He remained in care until he became too old at 21.
Nausigimana was described in court as intelligent, capable and a low risk to reoffend. He was sentenced to one year of supervised probation for the assault.
He is to be back in court on the murder charge July 16.
— with files from Brittany Greenslade and The Canadian Press