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Parents charged with murder

EDMONTON — An Edmonton couple charged with starving and abusing their young twins are to appear in court Friday on new charges of second-degree murder and criminal negligence causing the death of one of the girls.

In addition, they will still face original charges of aggravated assault, criminal negligence causing bodily harm and failing to provide the necessities of life.

Paramedics were called last May to a home where they found the two-year-old girls suffering from injuries and severe malnourishment. Police said they weighed just 13 and 16 pounds.

One of the girls, known in court documents as M, went into cardiac arrest and spent the next three months in a coma virtually brain dead.

Doctors said she had an irreversible brain injury and would never regain consciousness, but the parents fought to keep her on life support, citing their religious beliefs as Muslims and their love for the girl.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice June Ross ruled she should be taken off life support.

“There is no status quo for M while she awaits the resolution of her parents’ legal difficulties,” Ross said in her ruling. “There are further medical challenges and further invasive treatments aimed only at continuing a life that holds no benefit for her.”

The Alberta Court of Appeal agreed it was in the girl’s best interests to be allowed to die, and said doctors had the right to remove her from a ventilator.

The Supreme Court of Canada refused to interfere with that ruling.

The parents were allowed one last visit with the girl in hospital, meeting individually with her for 20 minutes under police escort.

She died Sept. 20.

The surviving twin and an older brother, who had not been injured, are now in foster care.

The couple, who can’t be named under Alberta’s child protection laws, were escorted in handcuffs to their daughter’s funeral at an Edmonton mosque.

People who attended the service said the mother was almost overcome with emotion as she prayed beside the small pink coffin in a room for women, while the father was in tears when the coffin was brought into a room for men.

 
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