Press one of the expand buttons to see the full text of an article. Later press collapse to revert to the original form. The buttons below expand or collapse all articles.
Truth du Jour
October 23, 2007 permalink
We have not seen the legal papers used to take custody of Matthew Reid from his parents (they are secret) but if they are like all other child protection cases they paint a picture of a horribly abused boy taken from an unsafe and unloving home. Now in the effort to deflect responsibility by blaming a mentally defective girl for the failures of the child protection system, a crown attorney has made a contradictory claim, describing Matthew with the words: "A young life, you hear from the family, was a very happy life.” Sounds like they tell the story that suits their purposes at the moment, and rely on secrecy to avoid being caught.
Crown argues girl who killed toddler should get more than 7 years
By KARENA WALTER Standard Staff, Posted October 12, 2007
Seven years is not long enough to hold a teenage girl accountable for smothering a toddler, the Crown argued in St. Catharines court Thursday.
That’s the total sentence the girl, who was 14 when she killed Matthew Reid, can receive if she is sentenced as a youth for second-degree murder.
“This young lady needs supervision and support and will probably need it for the rest of her life,” said assistant Crown attorney Patricia Vadacchino, arguing the girl should be sentenced as an adult.
“Not only does she need it, but the community needs it.”
But lawyer John Lefurgey told Justice Ann Watson that a youth sentence for the girl, now 16 and suffering from developmental disabilities, is the best option in the case.
“It may not be perfect, but it’s better than all the alternatives,” he argued.
An adult sentence would mean the girl would receive life, with eligibility for parole in five to seven years. A youth term brings a maximum seven years, with no more than four of those years in custody.
Watson will make her ruling on the adult versus youth sentence Nov. 16 in the Ontario Court of Justice.
The girl, whose identity is protected by the Youth Criminal Justice Act, pleaded guilty in January to killing the three-year-old.
The court has heard the girl arrived at a Welland foster home on Dec. 14, 2005 and suffocated Matthew, also a foster child, with his own pillow sometime after 9 p.m. that day.
He was found dead the next morning with blood smeared into a cross on his forehead and a note under his head that said, “I know what his last words were before he died. Momma.”
Vadacchino said the court has to evaluate the girl’s prospect for rehabilitation and if she can be re-integrated into society. The youth sentence is not a sufficient length to meet those standards, she said.
Experts who testified said the girl will always need supervision, Vadacchino said.
The girl has the cognitive ability of a seven or eight-year-old, has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome. She has a conduct disorder that makes her violent and irrational, Vadacchino said.
Prior to Matthew’s death, the girl had significant difficulties, was suspended from high school, stole and ran away from home, Vadacchino said. She had difficulty controlling anger and would throw things and swear. She stole her foster parents car to meet a 40-year-old man, was charged and ended up in the Welland foster home.
“Within 24 hours she killed Matthew Reid. She takes the life of a young person she did not know. A young life, you hear from the family, was a very happy life,” Vadacchino said.
“There is something utterly wrong with burying a child. That’s what this family faced.”
The girl was assessed by several health professionals and there were numerous attempts to assist her, she said. Under a youth sentence, Vadacchino said, if the girl does not respond to treatment, she will still be out in seven years.
But Lefurgey said the youth sentence should be looked at in proportion to the person — seven years is half the girl’s life from the time she committed the crime. She won’t be done serving the sentence until she is 23, and that’s a very long time for a 16-year-old, he said.
He said the girl wasn’t someone born with a silver spoon who went out to commit crimes.
“She was born with certain issues, her whole upbringing has been full of issues, she hasn’t been dealt a good hand to begin with,” he said.
If she is sentenced as a youth, there is already a reintegration plan in place and supports in the community, Lefurgey said. He said she has been showing signs of improvement.
Source: St Catherines Standard