North York man on trial for murder of fiance’s toddler

Click to play video: 'Court hears case against Toronto man accused of 2nd-degree murder of toddler'
Court hears case against Toronto man accused of 2nd-degree murder of toddler
WATCH: A Toronto man was in court on Wednesday, charged with the second-degree murder of a toddler. Catherine McDonald has details from the trial’s closing arguments – Jun 7, 2023

Wynonna Noganosh, who was known as Winnie, was a happy child who came to Toronto from the Magnetawan First Nation on March 17, 2021, with her mother Aleisha Noganosh and brother for a visit with her mother’s fiancé, Rodrigo Flores-Romero.

But two days after arriving at the North York townhouse unit where Flores-Romero lived, things went terribly wrong, and Winnie died in hospital.

Assistant Crown attorney Allison Macpherson told the jury during her closing address at the trial that Flores-Romero, now 30, is guilty of second-degree murder as charged.

“Wynonna died as a result of a barrage of blunt force injuries when he assaulted her at the Grandravine Community Centre on his way home from the Metro.” Flores-Romero had offered to take the children to the grocery store because Aliesha, who was expecting Flores-Romero’s child, was feeling unwell.

“The evidence proves that Flores-Romero willfully inflicted bodily harm on Wynonna and he knew that his assault was likely to kill her,” Macpherson added. She explained the Crown’s theory is that he used his hands or feet to punch, slap or kick Winnie – the exact method of assault was not clear.

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Macpherson said there is an available inference that Flores-Romero struck Wynonna’s face, torso, arms and legs with his hands and feet, leading to a contusion on her torso, jawline, hips and back. She also had an abrasion on her thigh, blunt force injuries to her abdomen, liver and pituitary gland, as well as broken ribs and a suspected bite mark on her right arm.

The jury was shown surveillance video of the 34-month-old child walking through the parking lot of the Metro Grocery store at 1056 Wilson Ave., with her brother and Flores-Romero just minutes prior to the assault. They also viewed a number of cellphone videos that Flores-Romero sent to Aliesha inside the supermarket in which she appears happy and talking.

The car is then tracked to the parking lot of the Grandravine Community Centre where it’s seen backing into a parking spot and sitting for roughly six minutes before Flores-Romero and the children drive off and arrive minutes later in the parking lot at 299 Grandravine Dr., where he lived.

A cellphone video taken by Flores-Romero sent to Winnie’s mother was also shown in court. In it, the accused is talking to the little girl who is in the backseat of the car. She is moaning and unresponsive. At one point, Flores-Romero can be heard saying in a surprised tone, “Oh, she peed.” The video then shows the toddler’s soiled pants.

When Flores-Romero testified in his own defence Monday, he told the jury that Wynonna needed to pee, so he drove to the parking lot of the community centre so she could relieve herself. He directed the child, who the court heard was toilet-trained, to a grassy area at the back of the building and scrolled on his phone looking at Instagram, while she was left unattended.

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As she came back from peeing, Flores-Romero told the court that he took her hand, she stepped on his foot, and there was a fall.

“His evidence was that he fell on top of her knees, landing on her abdomen, his stomach hitting her head, holding her hand,” said Macpherson who questioned why Flores-Romero never told Aliesha or hospital staff what had happened that night.

“He testified he didn’t mention it because it was a routine event,” Macpherson called his version of events “a fabrication.”

Macpherson also surmised that an available inference is that Flores-Romero lost his temper as a result of the toileting accident and assaulted the child.

After returning home, court heard Flores-Romero gave Winnie a bath before Aliesha realized her daughter was not well. The couple eventually drove to hospital, where Flores-Romero told staff that Winnie had slipped and fallen in the bathtub.

Defence lawyer Paul Mergler told the jury in his closing address that Flores-Romero didn’t know how badly injured Winnie was. “If you think what he did was accidental as described, he is not guilty of murder,” Mergler explained.

Mergler added that Flores-Romero had consumed more than three-quarters of a 750 ml bottle of Jack Daniels that afternoon and he was drunk.

“The Crown might say that any consumption of alcohol had no meaningful effect on his ability to function or make decisions. His judgement seems remarkably skewed. Driving with a G1, unbelted children, one in the front seat, one rolling stop, one blown stop sign, overshooting the Metro store, and having to do a U-turn … To prove second-degree murder, the Crown must prove that he was aware of the consequences of his unlawful actions. If you believe that he assaulted Wynonna, the Crown must prove that he foresaw the death was likely, not merely that there was a danger of death,” Mergler said.

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“There was not a hint nor an inkling nor a sign to suggest he was upset with anything, or with Wynonna in particular,” Mergler concluded.

Aliesha Noganosh sat in the courtroom Wednesday surrounded by family and friends. Court heard that just four months before Winnie’s death, Aliesha’s boyfriend, Winnie’s father, had been killed. Flores-Romero and Aliesha had been friends since the age of 15 and the two had become romantically involved after the death.

A significant portion of the Crown’s case was video and photographic evidence presented by Det. Sgt. Terry Browne. As one of the selected jurors is visually impaired, described video format was used when exhibits were shown.

The day ended with the judge beginning his charge of the jury. It will conclude Thursday morning and it’s anticipated the jury will begin deliberations later in the day.

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