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October 31, 2011

SCC denies appeal in Infanticide Case

The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) has dismissed an appeal by the Crown to review the decision of the Alberta Court of Appeal finding Katrina Effert guilty of infanticide. Effert was 19 when she secretly gave birth to her newborn son and then strangled him to death.

Two years ago a jury found Effert guilty of second-degree murder, but the Alberta Court of Appeal found the jury had made a mistake in not giving Effert the benefit of the doubt based on psychiatric evidence. The Appeal Court overturned her murder conviction and substituted the lesser conviction of infanticide which carries a maximum 5 year sentence.

The Appeal Court found that if the elements of infanticide are met beyond a reasonable doubt then the woman must be found guilty of infanticide even if the Crown proves she meets the elements of murder.

This decision is the same as one made by the Ontario Court of Appeal in the case of a young woman convicted of infanticide for the deaths of two of her children. The appeal to the SCC in this case was also dismissed.

Effert is currently serving a three year suspended sentence involving court-ordered conditions, but no prison time.