Murder trial begins for mother accused of beating daughter with belt, spatula

·2 min read

EDMONTON — Shalaina Arcand’s siblings were asleep in another room when the five-year-old was hit in the head so hard that she died in hospital four days later, a trial judge heard Monday.

The girl's mother, Lauren Lafleche, pleaded not guilty on the first day of a two-week trial to second-degree murder, assault with a weapon and failure to provide the necessaries of life. The weapons listed as evidence are a belt and a spatula.

Edmonton Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Avril Inglis heard testimony from Shalaina's brother and sister through a video conference call.

A video was also played of the brother, who was four years old at the time, speaking to a child protection services unit after Shalaina's death five years ago.

In the video, the brother said Shalaina was made to sleep on the floor of a closet in their mother's room, while he and another sister slept in clean beds.

The boy said everyone was hit regularly in the home with a belt as a form of punishment, but Shalaina was beaten the most with a belt and she was hit "everywhere."

He also said he and the other sister also hit Shalaina with a belt "because she cries every single night."

"Everyone hit Shalaina with a belt," he said.

Court heard that Lafleche called police from a home in northwest Edmonton around midnight on Oct. 12, 2015. Shalaina was breathing but wouldn't wake up.

An autopsy later confirmed Shalaina died from brain damage caused by blunt force trauma to her head.

Lafleche, then 29, was arrested.

Shalaina's older sister, who was 10 years old, told child protection workers in another video played in court that their mother woke her up the night of the 911 call to help give the unresponsive Shalaina a hot shower and wash her face. The call for help was made shortly after.

The sister, now 16, told court she was too emotional to hear the rest of the interview played as evidence.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 16, 2020.

___

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

Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press