EDMONTON — A young mother from Wetaskiwin will proceed to trial on a charge she threw the body of her newborn son over a fence into a neighbour’s yard after strangling the infant with a pair of orange thong panties.
Katrina Ann Effert, 23, tried to plead guilty to the reduced charge of infanticide at the outset of her scheduled 12-day jury trial, but the Crown rejected the plea and a judge ordered her to proceed to trial on the charge of second-degree murder.
Effert also pleaded guilty to a second charge of disposing of a body in order to conceal it and the judge ruled she would be sentenced for that at the end of the trial.
The jury, consisting of six men and six women, then heard opening statements by both Crown and defence.
Defence lawyer Peter Royal called it a “sad and tragic case” and told the jury the only issue is whether Effert’s mind was disturbed at the time of the birth, after a secret pregnancy she concealed from everyone.
Royal concluded by telling jurors he was confident they would decide his client is guilty of the lesser charge of infanticide after hearing medical evidence that he said would answer the question: “How could this young woman do such a thing?”
Royal also said Effert received no support from anyone during the pregnancy and was spurned by the baby’s father.
He argued that someone trying to commit a murder would not likely throw the body into a neighbour’s yard.
But prosecutor Rob Robbenhaar countered that Effert “murdered her newborn child and disposed of the body by throwing it over her neighbour’s fence.”
Robbenhaar said the jury will hear evidence from police that a pair of orange thong panties was found tightly wrapped around the infant’s neck like a ligature.
He told jurors they will also hear that the then-19-year-old Effert initially denied having anything to do with the baby’s death, calling it “sick” and saying that whoever would do such a thing “needs help.”
Effert also maintained that she was still a virgin and couldn’t imagine anyone wearing thong underwear.
However, over several taped police interviews, her story begins to change and she eventually admitted she had been pregnant and had given birth, but still denied the killing.
Eventually, Effert told police she secretly gave birth to a baby boy in the basement of her parent’s home and, three hours later, put a green towel and then the thong underwear over the newborn’s mouth to stop him from crying.
She then admitted she threw the body over the neighbour’s fence four hours after that, said Robbenhaar.