Toronto woman charged with murdering teenage daughter acquitted by judge at retrial

Click to play video: 'Scarborough mother who has been on trial twice for murdering her disabled daughter in 2011 acquitted on all charges'
Scarborough mother who has been on trial twice for murdering her disabled daughter in 2011 acquitted on all charges
WATCH: Cindy Ali said she is very emotional knowing after 13 years, including 4 years behind bars, the case is finally over. A judge-alone trial found her not guilty on all counts. Catherine McDonald reports – Jan 19, 2024

A woman charged with killing her disabled teenage daughter has been acquitted of a first-degree murder charge at a retrial by an Ontario judge.

A jury had originally found Cindy Ali guilty of murdering her 16-year-old child Cynara in 2016 after she pleaded not guilty. She was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

A new trial was ordered in 2021, and on Friday, a judge acquitted Ali at the retrial more than a decade after her daughter, who had cerebral palsy, was taken off life support.

Crown prosecutors had argued in the original trial that after years of being the primary caregiver for the infant-like Cynara, Ali smothered her daughter with a pillow and then created an elaborate story about a home invasion at their Scarborough home to cover up her crime.

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Ali’s defence lawyers had argued, however, that Cynara was cherished by her mother and died either after seizures that might have been triggered by the alleged home invasion, or from a lung infection, which she was known to be susceptible to.

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Years after her 2016 conviction, Ali appealed for a retrial. In 2021, she was granted one because of faulty instructions given to the jury that convicted her.

“The jury instructions wrongly narrowed the proper scope of the jury’s deliberations,” the unanimous appeal court decision found.

The conclusion of that retrial came on Friday with a new verdict in judge-alone proceedings.

In a courtroom full of Ali’s family, friends and supporters, Justice Jane Kelly handed down her verdict, acquitting Ali of the first-degree murder charge. She was also found not guilty of manslaughter.

“I am left in a state of uncertainty, such that I am not sure where the truth of the matter lies,” the judge wrote.

“I am unable to resolve the conflicting evidence, and accordingly, I am left in a state of reasonable doubt as to Mrs. Ali’s guilt.”

Speaking outside the courtroom, Ali said she was relieved the court process was finally over.

“It’s done, after so long, it’s done and I’m really happy for that,” she said.

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“After today, it will be our time as a family (for) healing and grieving but not forgetting Cynara because she’s still here with me, she’ll always be with me.”

— with files from The Canadian Press

Cynara Ali died in a Toronto hospital in February 2011.

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