Edmonton mother in prison for manslaughter of daughter appeals conviction, sentence

·2 min read

EDMONTON — An Edmonton mother who is serving time in an Alberta prison for manslaughter in the death of her daughter is appealing her conviction.

A lawyer for the woman says in a notice of appeal that there was not enough evidence to show an assault occurred that killed the five-year-old girl.

The mother was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to seven years in prison after a trial.

Court heard that she said in a witness statement that her daughter may have fallen off a bed or had been injured while playing at a park a few days before she died.

An autopsy determined the girl died in October 2015 from blunt force trauma to her head.

The 30-year-old was acquitted of three other charges: second-degree murder, failure to provide the necessaries of life and assault with a weapon, which included a belt and a spatula.

The girl died a few days after her mother called 911 to report that one of her three children was breathing but wouldn't wake up.

Pathologist Mitchell Weinberg testified the girl arrived at the hospital with hemorrhages that were widespread in her brain. He described them as recent injuries.

The notice of appeal says the case was based on circumstantial evidence.

"In their testimony, the Crown medical experts were presented with a few possible explanations for the injuries sustained by the victim," defence lawyer Peter Royal argues in the notice.

"After discounting these explanations and finding that no other plausible explanations had been provided, a number of these experts opined that the injuries must have been inflicted.

"This is a reversal of the burden of proof."

The statement also argues that the sentence is unfit because it was compared to previous cases involving parents or guardians who mistreated their children for days and weeks.

"There was no evidence of any form of mistreatment of the victim," says the appeal notice. "In fact, the evidence at trial suggested the accused had provided a supportive environment for her young children."

The trial heard that the mother had no criminal record and that there were numerous Gladue considerations -- adverse issues that affect Indigenous people and have contributed to them being in court.

"Despite this, she received a sentence comparable to those who commit acts of manslaughter against children that are both violent and precipitated by abuse over an extended period of time," says the notice.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2021.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press

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