The Crown wants an Edmonton foster mother who fatally beat a four-year-old niece in her care to serve six more years in prison, while the defence suggests probation.
Those were the submissions heard Tuesday at a Court of Queen’s Bench manslaughter sentencing hearing for the 27-year-old killer, who cannot be named under a provincial law forbidding the identification of people in
Crown prosecutor Jim Stewart argued a 12-year sentence would be fit, but reduced it by five years and three months for the time the woman spent in pre-trial custody.
Stewart said two “hugely aggravating” factors in the case are the degree of the “prolonged” 2009 assault, which led to extensive bruising, broken ribs and a fatal brain injury, and the fact the woman did not call for medical
attention for several days, despite obvious signs of distress.
“Her selfish decision to not report the horrible thing she did to (the girl) condemned (her) to death,” said Stewart.
Defence lawyer Lisa Trach said a five-and-a-half-year sentence would be appropriate and noted her client will have already served it by the April 11 sentencing date.
However, she agreed a further period of probation would be warranted so the woman can get counselling.
Trach argued her client loved the children she was caring for and said the reason for the delay in calling for help was she was “in denial over committing the horrible act.”
Trach noted she treated the dying girl for flu symptoms, saying “her actions were not those of a rational person.”
She also spoke of her client’s terrible upbringing, including physical abuse and early drug exposure, and argued the province is partially to blame for what happened due to the foster mom getting little help from the
The child killer calmly apologized in court Tuesday.
“I’d like to say sorry to my family for what I’ve done,” she said. “I regret it every day of my life. I think about (the victim) every day. She was my niece. They trusted me to take care of her and I failed. I’m sorry.”
The woman pleaded guilty to manslaughter on Oct. 17.
Court heard she was given custody of her brother’s six young children in August 2008 as a result of him and his wife being unable to care for them due to crack cocaine addictions, and she and her boyfriend lived with them
in a rented west-end home paid for by the province.
On Jan. 13, 2009, emergency personnel went to the home and found the victim dead on her bedroom floor. An autopsy determined she had extensive bruising over most of her body, two fractured ribs and bleeding on the brain.
According to agreed facts, the woman caused the deadly injuries by “intentionally applying tremendous blunt force” to the child sometime between Jan. 9 and Jan. 10.
Then, despite the girl experiencing severe brain injury symptoms, such as lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea and ultimately a coma, the woman did not call for medical help.
Instead, she gave her niece cough syrup, used a T-shirt to scoop vomit from her mouth and put a diaper on her.
A defence psychological report — detailing the woman’s drug abuse problems, mental health issues and lack of parenting skills — raised serious questions as to why the province placed the six “crack babies” in her custody.