Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Crown fights for murder charge in child's death
Manitoba prosecutors are gearing up for a legal battle that would see a second-degree murder charge reinstated against a mother accused of killing her two-year-old daughter.
To do so, Crown attorneys in charge of proving a criminal case against Nicole Redhead must convince a Justice of Manitoba's Court of Queen's Bench that a recent decision to try Redhead for manslaughter and not murder was an incorrect one.
Redhead was charged in the killing of Jaylene Sanderson-Redhead last July and has been behind bars ever since.
Police allege the little girl died because of long-term abuse while the two were living at a treatment centre in Winnipeg's North End.
Jaylene had been in the care of an aboriginal child and family services agency, but it gave custody back to Redhead about six months before the girl's death on condition that the agency would supervise the pair closely.
Officers were called to the treatment centre on June 29, 2009, and rushed Jaylene to the hospital where she died. Redhead was charged with second-degree murder about two weeks later.
After a preliminary hearing of the Crown's evidence against Redhead earlier this year, Provincial Court Associate Chief Judge Mary-Kate Harvie ruled that the mother should stand trial on the reduced charge of manslaughter.
The evidence presented by the Crown at the preliminary hearing cannot be published because of a mandatory publication ban.
A formal indictment against Redhead on the reduced charge was drawn up in mid-April, according to court records.
However, court documents show that prosecutors believe the judge went beyond her jurisdiction by reducing the charge.
Harvie did so "by engaging in an improper weighing of the evidence and by choosing from competing inferences in favor of [Redhead]," prosecutors said.
A higher court judge will hear the Crown's arguments to reinstate the murder charge at a May 25 hearing.
If convicted of manslaughter, Redhead faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, but there is no mandatory minimum. A second-degree murder conviction carries with it a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole eligibility for 10 years.