The jury has been selected for the trial of a Granby, Que., woman accused of killing her seven-year-old stepdaughter in 2019.
The girl's death sparked public outcry, prompting an inquiry into Quebec's youth protection system.
On the first day of her trial, the 38-year-old woman pleaded not guilty to the two charges against her: premeditated murder and forcible confinement.
In addition, 14 jurors — six women and eight men — were selected.
During the selection, it was discussed if jurors needed to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to participate. After hearing both parties, Judge Louis Dionne decided not to question the jury candidates about this.
Neither the Crown nor the defence wanted being adequately vaccinated to be a mandatory requirement. The prosecutor clarified that this is the official position of the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP).
The jury is exceptionally composed of 14 people due to the looming threat of COVID-19. Normally, the law requires 12. This decision was made by the judge who explained two extra jurors were added to ensure a full jury is able to deliberate the entire case.
Toward the end of the trial, two jurors will be removed by a lottery system if there are still 14 jurors, Dionne said.
The trial is being held in Trois-Rivières, Que. Eight weeks have been set for the trial, but the judge said it could last longer or shorter than that given period.
The first witnesses are expected to be heard in two weeks.
The girl's father is also facing charges, including criminal negligence causing death, child abandonment and failure to provide the necessaries of life.
Their trials are separate, although some of the same witnesses could be called to testify. The father's trial could take place as late as next year.
The girl died on April 30, 2019, the day after local police found her in critical condition at her father's house.
The case aroused indignation and led the Legault government to set up a commission of inquiry to look into the entire youth protection system.