A Granby, Que., woman was found guilty Thursday of second-degree murder in the death of her seven-year-old stepdaughter.
A jury rendered its verdict at the courthouse in Trois-Rivières, Que., just after 3:30 p.m., about five hours after deliberations began.
The 38-year-old woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of her other children, was also found guilty of forcible confinement.
The woman testified that she had wrapped multiple layers of tape around the girl to prevent her from running away, but she denied placing tape over the girl’s nose and mouth. The tape was removed before first responders arrived.
Prosecutor Claude Robitaille told reporters he was “obviously pleased with the verdict,” though a little surprised at how quickly the jury reached its decision. He said the verdict means the jury believed the woman was aware there was a likely risk her actions would lead to the girl’s death.
“If this verdict gives a bit of dignity back to this young girl, that’s already enormous,” Jean Sebastien Bussières, another Crown lawyer, told reporters.
Defence lawyer Alexandre Biron said he doesn’t agree with the outcome and will discuss next steps with his client.
A second-degree murder conviction carries a sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 10 years. The judge could set the parole eligibility period as high as 25 years.
The girl was found by authorities in critical condition in her family home in April 2019 and died in hospital a day later.
A paramedic who testified in October said the girl was not breathing and didn’t have a pulse when she arrived.
“The girl was naked in a puddle of urine,” Kariane Royer testified, adding the youngster was “very thin” and had “greyish skin.”
Royer said there was no bed or mattress in the room and the furniture was piled up. “It didn’t seem like a bedroom,” she said.
An investigation into the case by the province’s human rights commission identified failures at all stages of the clinical and legal process designed to protect the girl and led to an inquiry into Quebec’s youth protection system.