Jury selection took place Monday at the Trois-Rivières courthouse for the trial of the stepmother accused in the April 2019 death of a young child who became known as “Granby girl.”
The seven-year-old girl died under disturbing circumstances while her case was being followed by youth protection services in the Eastern Townships. Her death occurred in hospital, a day after she was found in critical condition in her family home.
The woman, who is in her 30s, is accused of second-degree murder and forcible confinement. She pleaded not guilty to the charges and her trial is expected to unfold over several weeks after the jury is selected.
The father of the girl, who is also in his 30s, faces charges of negligence causing death, child abandonment and having failed to provide the necessaries of life. His trial has not yet begun, but could start in 2022.
The death of the seven-year-old girl made waves in Quebec. At the time, it was revealed that the child had been under the surveillance of youth protection for several years.
The Legault government then announced a public inquiry to “determine the probable causes of this death and make recommendations to avoid similar deaths.” The dates and location of the hearing, set to be chaired by coroner Géhane Kamel, have not yet been determined.
The child’s death also sparked an internal probe within the local health authority in the Eastern Townships, which oversees the youth department. The findings pointed to the “complete system” failing to protect the young girl.
Quebec also created a special commission to look into children’s rights and youth protection in the province. It was headed by former nurse Régine Laurent.
She issued a slew of recommendations in her final report, which came out last May. It included the adoption of a charter of children’s rights, better funding for several community organizations and a lightening of the workload of youth workers.
In response to the recommendations, the province’s junior minister said he intends to prioritize an “in-depth” overhaul of the Youth Protection Act. Lionel Carmant also pledged to implement more preventive measures to help children in vulnerable situations before their cases reach the youth protection department.
He also announced an amount of $10 million per year to improve clinical support services for foster families.
The jury in the court case will be made up of eight men and six women. They will be back in court on Sept. 27.