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Woman pleads not guilty in death of toddler found outside Edmonton church

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EDMONTON — A Crown prosecutor says a woman charged after a toddler’s lifeless body was found outside a church either abused the boy or did nothing to stop the violence that killed him.

Tasha-Lee Doreen Mack is accused of second-degree murder in the 2017 death of 19-month-old Anthony Joseph Raine.

In his opening statement, Crown prosecutor Mark van Manen said the trial will hear from about 15 witnesses.

“The Crown expects to show that, in the two months before Anthony was found dead … he was the victim of physical abuse,” van Manen told an Edmonton court Monday.

The abuse became more severe as time went on, he said, and either Mack or the boy’s father, Joey Crier, perpetrated the violence while the other did nothing to stop it.

He said both are liable for the boy’s death.

Crier, who was in a relationship with Mack at the time, also faces a second-degree murder charge but has not yet gone to trial.

An agreed statement of facts submitted at Mack’s trial said a witness saw the couple pushing a stroller near the Good Shepherd Anglican Church in Edmonton on April 18, 2017.

“She saw one of the individuals open the garbage bin at the corner of the church and throw a white blanket taken from inside the stroller into the garbage bin,” the statement says.

Crier and Mack left the boy propped up in a sitting position, under a blue blanket, at the side of the church, it says.

Three days later, a woman out for a walk noticed what she thought was a bundle of garbage. Davida Marantz pulled back the blanket, then ran into the church, where some ladies were preparing for a bazaar, and said: “It’s a baby. Come, come. It’s a baby.”

A paramedic arrived and determined the child was dead.

“His head was swollen and dark purple in colour. He had dried blood around his face and in both of his ears,” says the document. “He was cold to the touch with circular patterns of bruising and indentation marks on his neck.”

The next day, police released surveillance video of a man and a woman pushing a stroller with a blue blanket. A tip later identified the people as Crier and Mack.

A bus driver who recognized the pair also called his control centre, which contacted police.

The statement says Thomas Loughlin told police that Crier and Mack had boarded his bus with an empty stroller, and that he had overheard Crier tell Mack that they “needed to get rid of this thing.” Loughlin said Mack responded with laughter.

Crier and Mack were arrested by police that night.

The Canadian Press


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Liberals to reject Senate changes to solitary confinement bill

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OTTAWA — The Liberals are poised to reject the Senate’s amendments to a bill that aims to end the practice of solitary confinement.

The government’s response to the Senate’s package of amendments details why the Liberals won’t accept a key change requiring a judge to approve any decision to isolate a prisoner beyond 48 hours.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says in a letter to the Senate that such a change would increase the workload of provincial courts and require the appointment of new judges to compensate.

Sen. Kim Pate, a lifelong advocate for prisoners’ rights, disagrees.

She says the government is spending money on hiring external reviewers for solitary confinement decisions with dollars that could be used to hire more judges, who have greater expertise and independence.

Pate says the law would be unconstitutional if the Liberals pass the bill without the Senate’s amendments.

The Canadian Press


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Chief military judge’s court martial in limbo after deputy recuses himself

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OTTAWA — The court martial for Canada’s chief military judge is in limbo after the judge overseeing the trial, who happens to be deputy to the accused, agreed not to hear the case over conflict-of-interest concerns.

Lt.-Col. Louis-Vincent d’Auteuil also outlined the reasons why he felt the military’s other three sitting judges would not be able to preside over Col. Mario Dutil’s trial in an impartial manner.

That has left the fate of Dutil’s court martial, seen by some as a critical test for the military-justice system, up in the air.

“I met briefly with the prosecutors and asked them to inform me formally as to what the intent is,” Dutil’s lawyer, Philippe-Luc Boutin, said Tuesday. “So I don’t know. We’re just in limbo and waiting for the prosecution to make a decision.”

Dutil was charged with eight counts in relation to allegations he had an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate and knowingly signed a travel claim for $927.60 that contained false information.

Four of the charges were dropped at the start of the court martial last week, where Boutin served d’Auteuil with a subpoena before challenging the presiding judge’s impartiality and asking him to recuse himself.

A publication ban on details of that portion of the hearing, which included Dutil testifying about his relationship with d’Auteuil, whom he described as a “confidant,” has since been lifted.

In a decision written in French agreeing to Boutin’s request, d’Auteuil said it was reasonable for observers to believe he would be biased because of his relationship to several potential witnesses who are employees of the court.

“It has been shown that a well-informed person who studied the question in depth, in a realistic and practical way, would conclude that because of the existing links between certain court stenographers and myself, I would be biased,” he wrote.

He added that he did not feel he could appoint one of the military’s other three judges to take his place because they either had similar ties to the witnesses or didn’t have the right language skills or expertise for such a complex trial.

Dutil also had an acrimonious relationship with one of the three judges, which d’Auteuil said was another reason not to appoint that judge to preside over the court martial.

“Public confidence in the court-martial system and the function of a military judge could be undermined if I appoint a replacement military judge from among those who are currently eligible,” d’Auteuil concluded.

While military prosecutors could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, they have previously defended the decision to press forward with a court martial rather than through a civilian court.

But Boutin believed it was obvious from the start that the military-justice system would have a difficult time handling the case, and that “this long process could have been avoided.”

Prosecutors could try to get a reserve military judge, Boutin said, or send the file to the civilian system where Crown prosecutors would have to weigh whether it was feasible and in the public interest to move ahead with a trial.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


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