Woman pleads not guilty in death of toddler found outside Edmonton church

EDMONTON — A Crown prosecutor says a woman charged after a toddler’s lifeless body was found outside a church either abused the boy or did nothing to stop the violence that killed him.

Tasha-Lee Doreen Mack is accused of second-degree murder in the 2017 death of 19-month-old Anthony Joseph Raine.

In his opening statement, Crown prosecutor Mark van Manen said the trial will hear from about 15 witnesses.

“The Crown expects to show that, in the two months before Anthony was found dead … he was the victim of physical abuse,” van Manen told an Edmonton court Monday.

The abuse became more severe as time went on, he said, and either Mack or the boy’s father, Joey Crier, perpetrated the violence while the other did nothing to stop it.

He said both are liable for the boy’s death.

Crier, who was in a relationship with Mack at the time, also faces a second-degree murder charge but has not yet gone to trial.

An agreed statement of facts submitted at Mack’s trial said a witness saw the couple pushing a stroller near the Good Shepherd Anglican Church in Edmonton on April 18, 2017.

“She saw one of the individuals open the garbage bin at the corner of the church and throw a white blanket taken from inside the stroller into the garbage bin,” the statement says.

Crier and Mack left the boy propped up in a sitting position, under a blue blanket, at the side of the church, it says.

Three days later, a woman out for a walk noticed what she thought was a bundle of garbage. Davida Marantz pulled back the blanket, then ran into the church, where some ladies were preparing for a bazaar, and said: “It’s a baby. Come, come. It’s a baby.”

A paramedic arrived and determined the child was dead.

“His head was swollen and dark purple in colour. He had dried blood around his face and in both of his ears,” says the document. “He was cold to the touch with circular patterns of bruising and indentation marks on his neck.”

The next day, police released surveillance video of a man and a woman pushing a stroller with a blue blanket. A tip later identified the people as Crier and Mack.

A bus driver who recognized the pair also called his control centre, which contacted police.

The statement says Thomas Loughlin told police that Crier and Mack had boarded his bus with an empty stroller, and that he had overheard Crier tell Mack that they ”needed to get rid of this thing.” Loughlin said Mack responded with laughter.

Crier and Mack were arrested by police that night.

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