Police acknowledge request for charges to be upgraded in death of Indigenous woman

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PETERBOROUGH, Ont. — Police in Peterborough, Ont., said Wednesday they are aware of the calls for elevated charges in the death of a local Indigenous woman, but the investigation is ongoing.

Relatives of 22-year-old Cileana Taylor asked on Monday that the charges against her alleged assailant be upgraded from assault to at least manslaughter.

Taylor was attacked at a house party on Sept. 3 and remained in hospital for months with severe brain damage before dying on Feb. 26.

"To see a life cut short is never easy and we recognize that part of healing can include resolution through the courts and justice system," Peterborough police said Wednesday in response to the family's request.

Jordan Morin, 23, is charged with aggravated assault and assault causing bodily harm.

Police said they continue to liaise with the Crown attorney on the matter.

"We understand and can appreciate that this is probably not the answer that provides immediate, if any comfort," police said in a statement.

Police also said they're waiting for the results of forensic tests, which could take months to receive. They said an update on the case will be provided once further information is available.

Chief Emily Whetung of Curve Lake First Nation, where Taylor was raised and lived until the night of the incident, also called for Morin's charges to be elevated on Monday.

Taylor and Morin had been intimate partners for about three months at the time of the alleged assault.

Morin was already out on bail for a previous assault charge dating back to 2019 when he was charged for the incident involving Taylor.

He was released on bail on Feb. 3, three weeks before Taylor died.

"Gender-based and intimate partner violence continues to occur and for Indigenous women and girls the rates are even higher," police said in their statement.

"We recognize this type of violence is a systemic issue. Peterborough Police will continue to advocate for the protections afforded to victims of crime."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2021.

The Canadian Press