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No chance of manslaughter conviction in 2004 death of Fredericton toddler: court

A gavel sits on a desk in Ottawa, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press

The New Brunswick Crown has halted the manslaughter prosecution in the second trial of the man charged in the death of two-year-old Kennedy Corrigan.

James Paul Turpin left a Fredericton courthouse on Wednesday without a conviction for the 2004 death of his ex-girlfriend’s daughter.

The Crown decided there was no prospect of conviction and stayed the prosecution.

Turpin was first convicted in 2016 with second-degree murder in Corrigan’s death.

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The two-year-old had suffered a catastrophic brain injury on April 2, 2004, while in Turpin’s care. She died a week later at a hospital in Halifax.

Turpin had told investigators that Kennedy fell and hit her head in the bathtub, a statement that was later disputed by medical experts who said her injuries were not consistent with a fall.

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In 2019, he appealed the case, arguing the trial judge did not follow legal procedures as it allowed 12 expert witnesses.

A five-member panel on the New Brunswick Court of Appeal concluded that the second-degree murder conviction could not stand. The court then ordered a new trial on a manslaughter charge.

Turpin’s retrial began on March 8 this year, and a calling of evidence was completed on Monday.

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In a Thursday morning statement, the provincial Justice and Public Safety Department announced the Crown has stayed the case.

“As it is obligated to do, the Crown methodically reviewed the evidence that had been tendered and tested before Justice Terrence Morrison,” the statement read.

“The Crown determined that the evidence which unfolded throughout the trial process was such that a reasonable prospect of conviction no longer existed.”

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The statement said the decision to stay the prosecution was not made lightly.

“It must be noted that, in making this decision, at no time did the Crown lose sight of the weight and importance of this decision.

“However, it is a cornerstone of the Canadian criminal justice system that the Crown act fairly and impartially based on its assessment of the evidence.”

Corrigan’s death was a “tragic event,” the province said.

“The Office of the Attorney General continues to offer its ongoing thoughts and sympathies to the many who loved Kennedy dearly.”

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