WARNING: The details in this story may be disturbing to some readers.
A woman convicted in the death of a toddler found outside a north Edmonton church in 2017 has been sentenced to eight-and-a-half years behind bars.
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Rob Graesser sentenced Tasha-Lee Doreen Mack in Edmonton on Monday afternoon. With credit for time already spent in custody, Mack has five years left on her sentence.
Mack was convicted of manslaughter in November, in the death of 19-month-old Anthony Joseph Raine.
Mack and the child’s father, Joey Crier, were each originally charged with second-degree murder in the boy’s April 2017 death.
Anthony’s lifeless body was found outside the Good Shepherd Anglican Church. An autopsy revealed he died from severe head trauma.
The toddler had been dead for about three days when he was found.
The trial for Mack, presided over by Graesser, started in June.
Court heard Anthony suffered abuse before sustaining the final fatal blow to his head.
“If… [Mack] wasn’t the one doing it, she did nothing to stop it,” Graesser said in his decision.
Graesser went on to say it was clear Mack was Anthony’s caregiver and had a legal duty to take action when the toddler’s life was in danger.
On Monday, three victim impact statements were read to the court, including one from Dalyce Raine, Anthony’s mother.
“On April 17, I trusted the care of my son to Joey and I thought he was in good care,” she said.
“He took someone that was so special to me and my family. We all miss him a lot. He had no right to do that, and I just want to know why?
“Why couldn’t he just give him back to me instead of putting him through that pain and hurt?”
Dalyce’s statement said she visits her son’s grave and tells him how she’s coping.
“I tell him every day how I love him and miss him… I love you, my baby. Mom wishes she could hug and kiss you. You would’ve been five years old this year. I wish I could say happy birthday to your face instead of your grave,” she said.
“Now I have to live with this pain.”
Nathan Raine, Anthony’s uncle, said he struggles with depression and anxiety.
“Our Anthony was brutally taken from us. Our Anthony will never get a chance at life.”
“Our world fell apart in an instant,” he said.
A statement from Luci Johnson, a family support worker, was also read on Monday.
“The size of the coffin was something I can never get out of my head. It was so small.”
She had to help dress Anthony’s body and says she’ll never forget his little face.
“Your actions broke me so hard and it changed the way I help people today,” Johnson said. “You are responsible for breaking my spirit. I cannot do this frontline work anymore.”
Crown prosecutor Monica Sabo was seeking 10 to 12 years in jail for Mack, citing the lack of mitigating factors — no guilty plea, no remorse and that Mack owed a duty of care to Anthony. Given his age, Anthony could not remove himself from the situation, the Crown argued.
“If she was not the one doing it, she did absolutely nothing to stop the abuse,” Sabo said.
The defence was seeking a six-year sentence, saying his client has severe psychological issues.
“Ms. Mack clearly has intellectual impairments that contributed to what happened,” defence lawyer Ajay Juneja said.
In a statement to the court, Mack said she doesn’t know why she did what she did.
“It’s not me,” she said. “I love kids… I feel so bad about it, but I can’t give an explanation.
“I am willing to do whatever it takes to try and make up for my actions.”
In December, the Crown in the case announced it was appealing the judge’s manslaughter verdict. However, on May 13, 2020, the Crown said it had abandoned its appeal. No reasons were provided.
Crier’s trial was separate from Mack’s. In January, Crier was also found guilty of manslaughter. He is awaiting sentencing.
In February, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice David Labrenz said he will reduce Crier’s overall sentence because he has been assaulted in jail and spends much of his time segregated in protective custody.
–With files from Sarah Ryan and Kirby Bourne, Global News and Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press.