Man pleads not guilty in death of toddler son found outside Edmonton church

EDMONTON — The father of a toddler found dead outside a church more than two years ago was violent with the child, a Crown prosecutor told court.

Joseph Stanley Crier, 28, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 19-month-old Anthony Joseph Raine in April 2017. The boy’s lifeless body was found outside the Good Shepherd Anglican Church in Edmonton.

Crier has pleaded not guilty.

In her opening statement at Crier’s trial on Monday, Crown prosecutor Allison Downey-Damato said she will show that Crier and his then-girlfriend, Tasha Mack, were Anthony’s primary caregivers in the months before he died.

“He was eventually dependent on them for everything,” Downey-Damato told Court of Queen’s Bench Justice David Labrenz, who is hearing the case without a jury.

She said the abuse became more severe in the weeks before Anthony’s death and the boy was isolated from all other people by Crier and Mack.

“The bulk of the violence was perpetrated by Mr. Crier,” suggested Downey-Damato, who said the child’s injuries included a fractured rib and bruising.

She said the injuries would have been apparent to his caregivers, but no medical attention was sought. The toddler was suffering from blunt force trauma when he was left at the church, she said.

“He did not die right away. He lived three to 18 hours after those fatal blows.”

Mack, who also faces a second-degree murder charge, has pleaded not guilty as well. Her trial is to continue in November.

An agreed statement of facts submitted at Crier’s trial said Edmonton Transit System video shows two people pushing a stroller near the church. It also notes that there are GoPro videos that show an item near the church wall.

Two witnesses said in the statement that they were inside the church when a woman ran in, saying, “It’s a baby. Come. Come. It’s a baby.”

Both women testified on Monday.

Deborah Harpin, 65, said she and some other women who were preparing for a tea and bake sale ran outside to check and found the child beside the church.

“Gretchen and myself checked to see if there was any pulse,” she said.

Gretchen McCuaig, 62, said they couldn’t find a pulse and they stayed with the toddler until the fire department arrived.

“He looked puffy. He had a bruise on his cheek and there was some blood coming from his ear,” she said.

The trial is expected to hear from up to 30 witnesses over the next three weeks.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2019.

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press

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