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Morinville Foster Mother Acquitted
March 19, 2014 permalink
Morinville woman found not guilty in death of foster child
A Morinville woman was found not guilty in the manslaughter of a 20-month-old foster child that died in her care in March 2010.
Christine Laverdiere, 38, was acquitted of the charges in an Edmonton courtroom Wednesday afternoon.
She was accused of homicide after the toddler - whose identity is protected under a publication ban - suffered a seizure in her Morinville home. The child died at the Stollery Children's Hospital two days later.
The Crown's position stated that injuries to the child's brain found in autopsy, were inflicted by Laverdiere.
In her decision, Court of Queen's Bench Justice Mary Moreau cited evidence presented by expert forensic pathologists that cast doubt on the claims. They noted the child's brain bleeds could have been caused by vomit blocking the child's airway before, during or after seizure, an extended oxygen deprived state and prolonged resuscitation efforts.
"I am left with reasonable doubt as to whether (the child) died as a result of non-accidental abusive head trauma caused by Ms. Laverdiere," said Moreau.
Laverdiere did not wish to comment on the decision.
Source: St Albert Gazette
Morinville foster mother found not guilty of manslaughter in the death of toddler in her care
Emotions ran high in court Wednesday as a Morinville foster mother accused of causing the death of a toddler in her care was found not guilty of manslaughter.
Shortly after Court of Queen's Bench Justice Mary Moreau read out her decision, the grandfather of the 21-month-old deceased loudly said "No" twice and then stated "God will get her." Another relative swore at the acquitted foster mom and called her a "murderer."
Meanwhile, Christine Laverdiere, 38, tearfully embraced her husband and other relatives and a large group of her supporters cried with relief and hugged each other.
Medical experts testified for both Crown and defence and Moreau ruled that she was left with a reasonable doubt in the case because she was not able to dismiss the defence expert's theory regarding the injuries found at autopsy.
Pediatric pathologist Dr. Janice Ophoven testified at trial that the injuries were a result of a combination of vomit blocking the child's airways following a seizure, a lack of oxygen to her brain and prolonged resuscitation efforts.
Moreau said the fact the child had bleeding in the brain and retinal hemorrhaging made the scenario "very suspicious" for abusive head trauma as the evidence did not point strongly to a prior traumatic event or to an opportunity for someone else to have caused the injuries.
However, the judge said when she considered the defence expert evidence, Laverdiere's history as a foster parent and her statements to 911 operators and emergency responders, she was "left with a reasonable doubt as to whether (the child) died as a result of non-accidental abusive head trauma caused by Ms. Laverdiere."
Earlier in the trial, Alberta Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Anny Sauvageau testified the toddler suffered an "abusive head injury" which led her to conclude the girl was the victim of either a "violent shaking," an impact to the head or a combination of both.
According to agreed facts, Laverdiere and her husband had been foster parents for two years and the deceased child had been placed with them on Jan. 25, 2010.
The victim stopped breathing about 4 p.m. on March 1, 2010, and Laverdiere called 911. Paramedics found the child in full cardiac arrest and continued resuscitation efforts until she was placed on life support in hospital.
She was taken off life support two days later.
Court has heard Laverdiere told police the girl had been sitting on the floor drinking juice when she heard a thud and then found her having a seizure.
In a police interview, Laverdiere admitted she picked the girl up and "forcefully" sat her down on the floor while trying to get her to drink and then gave her a "little push," causing her to fall and hit her head on the floor.
However, Moreau ruled the incriminating statement was inadmissable because police had violated her Charter rights to have a lawyer and to remain silent.
Source: Edmonton Sun