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.



Alberta Kafka Still Free

April 11, 2009 permalink

Who is more deserving of sympathy, a foster child or his killer? In the Alberta Kafka case, the court and the press are sympathizing with the foster mom. She has another two months on bail while the judge decides her sentence. Expect leniency.



Mom's safety 'jeopardized'

Document released detailing alleged remand centre abuse

By Jamie Hall, The Edmonton Journal April 10, 2009

Arguing his client's "safety could be jeopardized," the lawyer representing a woman convicted of killing a three-year-old foster child tried unsuccessfully on Thursday to prevent the release of an affidavit, in which the woman claims she was verbally and physically abused by remand centre guards.

The affidavit was introduced as an exhibit Wednesday by defence lawyer Brian Beresh when he argued for leniency at a sentencing hearing presided over by Court of Queen's Bench Justice Richard Marceau.

Beresh has said one to three years is a fair sentence for the manslaughter conviction, while Crown prosecutor Mark Huyser-Wierenga wants 10 to 12 years.

On Thursday, reporters asked for and received copies of the affidavit, over Beresh's objections.

In it, the woman claims she was pushed, kicked, prodded and called a "baby killer" during her incarceration.

She said she was regularly insulted by guards, and frequent searches were conducted of her cell, during which she was pushed to the ground.

She claimed guards withheld her mail, curtailed her exercise period, and unlocked her cell door, allowing other inmates to approach her "menacingly."

The woman said guards called her a "baby killer" using a "whining, mocking tone, accompanied by laughter."

She said she found her time at the remand centre "demoralizing," and that she was "often frightened and fearful for my own safety."

Alberta Solicitor-General and Public Safety spokesman Andy Weiler said he could not comment on the allegations while the matter is before the courts.

The woman was held at the remand centre for about a month following her arrest on Jan. 26, 2007, after a three-year-old boy, a foster child in her care, suffered a fatal brain injury.

Originally charged with second-degree murder, a jury convicted the woman of manslaughter in November, rejecting the version of events she claimed led to the boy's death.

The 34-year-old nurse testified during the six-week trial that she awoke to a screaming boy on the day in question, and when she tried to carry the struggling toddler to the bathroom, he slipped from her grasp and hit his head on the toilet.

The boy died the next day.

Beresh has described his client as a "super woman" who became a foster parent because she loved children.

He said she is a caring and attentive mother -- she has two biological children -- who has support from her family and the community.

During the hearing, he produced more than 50 letters attesting to her character.

Huyser-Wierenga contended the woman displayed increasingly "cruel and callous" behaviour toward the foster child in the weeks leading up to his death, and said she inflicted the fatal injury with "massive and violent force."

A live-in nanny testified the little boy had been forced to sleep on a mat on a cement floor in a cold garage, wearing only a diaper, because he wouldn't stop crying.

Huyser-Wierenga recalled her testimony when he referred to the foster mother's affidavit, in which she complained about being moved to "an extremely cold cell" with the most restricted view from the guard station.

"Wouldn't it be nice if (this child) could be here to provide us with an affidavit of his own experience?" said Huyser-Wierenga.

Marceau is expected to deliver his sentencing decision June 4.

Source: Edmonton Journal