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Alberta Kafka Still Free

January 21, 2009 permalink

The Edmonton foster mother accused, and convicted, of killing a child two years ago is still free awaiting sentencing.



Killer of three-year-old foster child free to walk the streets while awaiting sentencing

Two years after her three-year-old foster child died of cranial trauma so severe that it left his brain "popping out of his skull," the killer still walks around a free woman.

And it will be another three months before a judge finally determines an appropriate punishment for her deplorable crime.

"I'm sick to my stomach," the victim's aunt said yesterday as she struggled to keep her composure.

"It's been so long. We expected all this to be finished tomorrow, and now we have to wait until April."

The hearing to determine the killer's sentence for manslaughter was supposed to start yesterday, but it was postponed because a psychiatric assessment requested by her lawyer couldn't be done on time. The hearing is now scheduled for April 7.

The victim's uncle seethed. "How can they keep prolonging this? It's been hard on everyone. When something like this hangs over you, it's damaging to the mind and body."

The killer, who cannot be named in order to protect the victim's identity, was convicted of manslaughter in November for the January 2007 death of a little boy entrusted to her safekeeping.

Instead of a safe haven, witnesses at the trial painted the foster home as a den of sadistic cruelty.

One said the tyke was repeatedly left in an unheated garage in January, wearing only a diaper.

Another said the foster mom forced the boy to stand with his nose against the wall for up to two hours at a time.

The foster mom was said to have made the pre-schooler run up and down snow-covered hills for exercise.

Once, according to her live-in nanny, the woman made the boy do "stair exercises" - at midnight.

She was apparently determined to toilet-train the boy, forcing him to spend hour after hour sitting on a toilet until he urinated.

One witness recalled seeing the foster mom hit the tyke as he sat there, knocking him into the tub.

She was alone with him in the bathroom the night he suffered a blow to the head so extreme that his brain swelled up until it was, in the words of one medical expert, "popping out of his skull."

"You can't do it with a single impact," testified Dr. Alex Levin of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. "The bottom line is the kid didn't have a fall and suffer a sudden impact."

But the foster mom, a petite, well-dressed, middle-class woman, denied any abuse and tearfully insisted in court that, in fact, the boy was so out of control that he was injuring himself.

The blow that killed him, she claimed, happened when he struggled with her in the bathroom, fell and hit his head against the toilet.

In the end, Justice Richard Marceau acknowledged yesterday that nobody can say with 100% certainty what happened in the bathroom that night, whether "a blunt instrument hit the (boy's) head, or the (boy's) head hit a blunt instrument" because the only other person present was the foster mom.

The judge wants the psychiatric assessment to include potentially "mitigating circumstances," like whether she found the boy to be difficult, whether the foster mom was under too much stress and whether she "sought to be a foster mother for commendable reasons."

But Crown prosecutor Mark Huyser-Wierenga insisted that regardless, the foster mom must be held fully accountable.

"All we know is she's the adult; she's the caregiver," Huyser-Wierenga said. "She assaulted this child in a manner that caused his death."

But in the meantime, the boy's grieving family can only look on as the woman responsible for their loved one's death two years ago continues to walk around free.

Source: Edmonton Sun