CALGARY — A defence lawyer has argued his client was not admitting he killed his young grandson when police recorded him praying for forgiveness.
Allan Perdomo Lopez is on trial for manslaughter in the death of five-year-old Emilio Perdomo, who court heard died of a blunt-force brain injury five months after he came to Canada from Mexico.
During the trial, the Crown played a police recording from the family minivan of the accused praying in Spanish.
“I wanted to help that child with all my soul, Lord. I didn’t want to kill that child,” Perdomo Lopez said, according to an English transcript of the tape.
Defence lawyer Darren Mahoney said in his closing arguments Thursday that the remark should not be taken as a confession.
“This Crown has presented this prayer as if it is a smoking gun,” he said. ”However, taken in proper context, this is not the — quote — ‘confession’ that the Crown is asking the court to find it is.”
The prayer was one of 11 police recordings presented at the trial from the accused’s vehicle, home and phone.
Mahoney urged Queen’s Bench Justice Richard Neufeld to evaluate each intercept in its entirety — not just the sections he suggested the Crown cherry-picked to construct its narrative.
Mahoney told court that Perdomo Lopez is a superstitious man who speaks frequently of demons and witchcraft. He said his client was actually praying for forgiveness for going to Mexico and bringing a curse into his house — not for killing the boy.
“This isn’t an apology for killing Emilio,” said Mahoney. ”This equally consistent with Mr. Perdomo apologizing for bringing the child from Mexico and the terrible consequences that resulted.”
The lawyer also said the grandfather did not mean the word “kill” literally, as he uses the word in another intercept to describe being punished by his own father in the past.
The trial heard the boy was taken to hospital unconscious on the evening of July 9, 2015, and underwent emergency brain surgery. Emilio never woke up and died eight days later.
Prosecutor Shane Parker said in his closing arguments last week that the boy was brought to Canada for a better life, but instead was abused for weeks by his grandfather.
Court was shown photos of bruises and scars all over Emilio’s body in various stages of healing. The injuries were not visible in photos of the child when he was in Mexico or shortly after he arrived in Canada.
Mahoney said there are reasonable conclusions Neufeld can draw other than that Perdomo Lopez killed the boy, including that it was an accident or that someone else in the household could have assaulted him.
A forensic pathologist who conducted Emilio’s autopsy, Angela Miller, classified the death as undetermined, meaning there was not enough information to deem it a homicide or an accident.
The Crown also called neuropathologist Leslie Hamilton, who concluded it was a homicide.
Mahoney said the police sought out the second opinion of a “far junior hired gun” when they didn’t like Miller’s conclusion.