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Alberta Kafka On Trial
October 15, 2008 permalink
The case we have dubbed "Alberta Kafka" has gone to trial before a jury. While names are still suppressed, we now learn that the accused foster mother is a Canadian born woman of Chinese ancestry.
No evidence of anti-Chinese bias: judge
Jury to decide fate of former foster mother charged in toddler's death
Karen Kleiss, The Edmonton Journal
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
EDMONTON - A former Edmonton foster mother charged with second-degree murder after a child died in her care has lost her bid to have a trial without a jury.
The woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the boy, argued the notoriety of the case and complexity of the evidence would make it impossible for her to receive a fair trial by a jury. She also argued jurors might discriminate against her because she is Chinese.
"I was born in Canada and have been subjected to racial comments throughout much of my life," she wrote in an affidavit reproduced in the ruling by Court of Queen's Bench Justice Richard Marceau.
"I have had people refer to me as a 'banana' ... the explanation being that we are considered yellow on the outside and white on the inside."
On Jan. 26, 2007, paramedics were called to a west-end home, where they found a seriously injured three-year-old boy. The child later died from massive head trauma. His foster mother, then 32 years old, was charged with second-degree murder.
In a judgment released last week, Marceau rejected the suggestion that the evidence would be too complex for jurors to hear, and said there was no evidence that Alberta jurors are biased against Chinese citizens.
"No evidence at all was led with respect to racial bias against Chinese except for the affidavit of (the foster mother)," he wrote.
"The evidence concerning an apprehension of bias arising from widespread bias against ... Chinese people generally in Edmonton or Alberta ... is less than persuasive."
However, Marceau ruled defence lawyer Brian Beresh could ask that potential jurors be dismissed if they had seen news reports about the crime published in the days after it occurred.
Marceau noted the news reports centred on the government's screening process for foster parents, and called the coverage a harshly abusive press attack against government.
He said public criticism of the government's screening process assumed the foster mother was responsible for the boy's death and that she was a bad person who should have been screened out.
The hearing and decision were protected by a publication ban until The Journal won the fight to have it lifted.
The trial is scheduled to begin today.
Source: The Edmonton Journal
Addendum: Here is a report on the first day of evidence.
Sat, October 18, 2008
Court hears foster mom call 9-1-1 as three-year-old lies on floor
By TONY BLAIS
The second-degree murder trial of a former Edmonton foster mother accused of killing a three-year-old boy in her care began yesterday with a recording of her 9-1-1 call.
In the Jan. 26, 2007, call, played in court for the jury, the accused can be heard calmly telling 911 evaluator Kathy Logozar that the boy had "collapsed onto the floor" and she was unable to rouse him.
The now-34-year-old woman also tells the evaluator the boy is a foster child and had been "harming himself" recently, stating he had bruises on his body from throwing himself onto the floor the day before.
"I'm very worried," said the woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the foster child.
"I just don't know what it is and I am scared."
She ended the call, after being told an ambulance was en route to her west-end home, by asking if it would be OK that she was wearing her pyjamas.
Jurors at the scheduled five-week trial also heard opening addresses from both the Crown and the defence.
Prosecutor Mark Huyser-Wierenga said the case will centre around the "catastrophic and devastating" brain injury the boy suffered that led to his death.
He told the jury they will hear from a medical examiner that the cause of death was "cranial trauma" and there will be evidence from medical experts saying that self-abusing behaviour like throwing yourself against walls or onto floors will not result in death.
Huyser-Wierenga also told jurors they will hear testimony from a nanny saying the accused left the boy overnight in a cold garage wearing only a diaper and she used to make him go up and down stairs for exercise twice daily.
Defence lawyer Brian Beresh told jurors his client "did not cause any harm" to the boy and "never mistreated him." He also denied she put him in the garage.
Beresh stated there was a "rush to judgment" after the death that the accused "had done something wrong" and said the woman will testify in her own defence.
He also told jurors that defence medical experts will testify that the fatal injury was likely caused by the boy's self-abusive behaviour and was an "accident."
The trial resumes Monday.
Source: Edmonton Sun