Mother guilty in newborn death

An Alberta woman who admitted to strangling her newborn and tossing the body into a neighbour’s back yard was found guilty of second-degree murder by a jury Saturday.

EDMONTON — An Alberta woman who admitted to strangling her newborn and tossing the body into a neighbour’s back yard was found guilty of second-degree murder by a jury Saturday.

But the defence lawyer for Katrina Effert, 23, told CTV he plans to challenge the jury’s verdict and will apply to have a mistrial declared.

Defence lawyer, Peter Royal, said he didn’t think the jury members understood the evidence presented during the trial.

He called the guilty verdict “unreasonable, perverse.”

Royal objected to the verdict, so Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Joanne Veit didn’t officially record it, the network reported.

Because of that legal twist, Effert is expected to remain out on bail until Monday, when Royal is expected to mount legal arguments for a mistrial.

While Effert admitted that she killed the child, Royal argued she should be found guilty of the lesser offence of infanticide because the birth of her newborn son April 18, 2005 had brought on an acute stress disorder and she wasn’t thinking straight.

“(The verdict) flies in the face of all technical medical evidence that I can only assume they (the jurors) didn’t grasp,” Royal said.

At the beginning of the trial in early June, the defence lawyer told court Effert would plead guilty to infanticide but the Crown did not accept that guilty plea.

Court heard that Effert, who was 19 at the time, told police she was scared after giving birth alone in the basement of her family’s home in Wetaskiwin, Alta.

In an RCMP video from 2005 that was played in court, Effert is heard admitting she panicked three hours after giving birth while she was alone in her room.

“I put him (the baby) face down and then I wrapped my underwear around his neck,” said Effert in the video.

Crown prosecutors argued that Effert was a cold blooded killer who knew what she was doing.

During the trial, a forensic psychiatrist testified Effert was suffering from an imbalance of the mind at the time while a forensic psychologist told jurors she had an acute stress disorder.

Dr. Vijay Singh, who prepared a psychiatric assessment after interviewing Effert for about 10 hours, told jurors the imbalance could have stemmed from either the birth itself or from some other emotional or organic reasons.

Marc Nesca testified Effert developed the disorder as a result of the traumatic experience of secretly giving birth alone, suffering intense pain and fear and having received no pre-natal care during the pregnancy.

The psychologist also testified the diagnosis became one of post traumatic stress disorder as the symptoms persisted for more than four weeks after the birth.

The jury began its deliberations Thursday.

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