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Someone Sentenced for Killing Somebody

June 5, 2009 permalink

The unnamed Alberta foster mother convicted of killing an unnamed child has been sentenced to three years. According to the article, the sentence will be appealed, so she will possibly be out on bail for some time. Even if served, prison rules could reduce the amount of time considerably. From the beginning of this case there have been suggestions of leniency on account of political connections of the accused.



Three years for Edmonton foster mom who killed boy

By Jamie Hall,, June 4, 2009

Alberta Kafka
Courtroom sketch from the trial of the foster mother.
Photograph by: Amanda O'Connell, Edmonton Journal

EDMONTON — By the time she was sentenced Thursday, a foster mother convicted of manslaughter had already spent her tears in the courthouse corridor, crying in the arms of supporters.

She was calm when she took her seat in the prisoner’s box, and dry-eyed as Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Richard Marceau told her she will spend the next three years in a federal prison.

When her three-year-old foster son died on Jan. 27, 2007, the 32-year-old nurse and had been a foster mother for a total of 52 days.

At about 2 a.m. that day, she was alone with the child when he suffered a blow to the head and lost consciousness.

The trauma and swelling was so severe that immediate medical intervention could not have saved him.

In his sentencing, the judge noted that was perhaps the only point Crown prosecutor Mark Huyser-Wierenga and defence lawyer Brian Beresh agreed on.

One insisted it was an accident, the other said it was murder.

Originally charged with second-degree murder, the woman was convicted of manslaughter by a jury last November following a six-week trial.

At a sentencing hearing in April, Beresh argued for leniency, asking for a jail term of one to three years; Huyser-Wierenga argued 10 to 12 years would be more appropriate.

During November’s trial, the foster mother maintained she was trying to control the crying, squirming boy as she took him to the bathroom, and said he sprang from her arms and struck his head on the toilet bowl.

Huyser-Wierenga contended the boy’s death was the result of “lethal violence,” the deadly culmination of a pattern of increasingly “cruel and callous” behaviour by the foster mother.

According to a nanny who worked in the house, whose testimony the judge said Thursday he accepted as an aggravating factor, that behaviour included leaving the boy overnight in an unheated garage, clad only in a diaper.

The nanny said the boy had bruises on his forehead when she found him sleeping on a cement floor the morning before he collapsed.

Marceau also accepted evidence that suggested the boy suffered from several neurological disorders, including fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Because of that, said the judge, the boy should have not been placed with the woman, who did not have enough fostering experience.

He also noted her willingness to accept more foster children in the weeks before the boy’s death. At one point, the woman had six children in the home; four foster children and two biological children, a son and a daughter.

Because the woman had no criminal record and is unlikely to reoffend, the sentence should reflect the “low end” of the range of incarceration, said the judge, who gave her two months’ credit for time served at the Edmonton Remand Centre.

She must also submit to a DNA order and must abide by a 10-year weapons ban.

Thursday’s sentence was met with outrage by the victim’s family. The boy’s biological father stormed out of the courtroom.

“You’re wrong!” he yelled at the judge, before pushing his way through the doors.

Outside court, Beresh said his client was “very pleased” with the thorough manner in which the judge reviewed the facts of the case.

“This was a very complicated case,” he said. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of case, and the judge took a lot of time; she’s appreciative of that.”

Beresh said he thinks the sentence was fair but said the jury delivered a “compromised verdict” and his client will likely appeal the conviction.

Huyser-Wierenga said he’ll recommend the sentence be appealed, adding that it did not reflect the jury’s verdict.

“Obviously, when we put forward our sentencing recommendation we did so with careful deliberation and consideration, and the fact there’s such a disparity between what we asked for and what was given here today ... we don’t think this is the fit and proper sentence,” he said. “This is not an adequate response at all for someone who has killed a child in her care.”

Beresh said the court case has been “ruinous” for his client, who will likely no longer be able to find work in her chosen profession as a nurse.

Her son, meanwhile, now lives with his father in another country, and she is only allowed supervised visits with her daughter.

Source: Edmonton Journal

Addendum:Many Canadian TV viewers now know the names of the parents in this case. If you are one of them, please notify Dufferin VOCA by email to [ rtmq at ] or use the phone on our homepage.



Global blasted for leaking names

Judge stops short of banishing network

By: Mike McIntyre, 5/06/2009 1:00 AM

IT'S a story that has captured the public's imagination and made headlines around the world.

And yet media outlets covering the ongoing custody battle between Child and Family Services and two alleged white supremacists have been forced to strike a delicate balance -- feeding the interests of their audience and protecting the privacy rights of two young children.

The issue was front and centre Thursday when a Winnipeg television station had to explain its news coverage to a judge, facing potential sanctions.

Child and Family Services tried to have Global reporters permanently banned from covering the rest of the case after they broadcast sensitive information that shouldn't have been made public. Agency lawyer Izzy Frost told court they had lost faith that Global "could adhere to the directions of the court and the letter of the law" after the names of the two parents involved in the case were displayed in a nationally-televised report last Friday. Court documents showing the names were also placed on Global's website for four days until being removed earlier this week.

"There is a very real possibility the children will suffer further and unnecessary harm," said Frost.

Bill Haight, a lawyer representing Global, offered a "full and complete apology" to the court for what he called an "inadvertent error" and an "innocent mistake." He said the network has taken steps to ensure their stories are better screened and edited before making it to air. Haight noted a company representative flew in from British Columbia to attend court Thursday morning to show they are taking the matter seriously.

"It is unfortunate, it is embarrassing for Global," said Haight.

Queen's Bench Justice Marianne Rivoalen decided not to banish Global from court, despite finding they committed a "blatant breach" of the law.

"I'm very disappointed, to say the least. It's such a blatant disclosure of the names of the parties. Clearly it's a huge error," said Rivoalen. She warned Global that no further mistakes would be tolerated and noted they still could face still legal sanctions.

CFS told court they may ask the Manitoba prosecution branch to consider charging Global for breaching provisions of the Child and Family Services Act, which carries a maximum penalty of $50,000. A lawyer representing the man trying to regain custody of his son and stepdaughter said she will also be pushing for charges and questioned why Global wasn't apologizing to her client for illegally making his name public.

All media outlets covering the case were warned at the beginning of the trial to be careful with their coverage. Rivoalen noted CFS had filed a motion to have them excluded from the case, but she ruled against it. However, the judge left the door open to revisit the issue if evidence of "manifest harm" against the children arises. She also banned any members of the public from sitting in court.

The foster mother of the two children assured court Thursday they were both being kept far away from newspaper and television coverage of the case.

"The moment the children become aware of this we may have to put a stop to the media process," said Rivoalen.

Source: Winnipeg Free Press