Crown wants 4 years for Alberta mother who killed baby

EDMONTON — The Crown wants an Alberta woman who strangled her baby after secretly giving birth in her parents’ basement to spend four years in prison.

EDMONTON — The Crown wants an Alberta woman who strangled her baby after secretly giving birth in her parents’ basement to spend four years in prison.

But the defence argues Katrina Effert should be given a suspended sentence of probation, because the offence for which she was actually convicted rarely merits jail time.

Over the last six years, Effert has been twice convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 10 years. But the Alberta Court of Appeal ruled earlier this year that the murder conviction was unreasonable and substituted one of infanticide.

That charge carries a maximum five-year term.

“What this woman needs is support and understanding,” defence lawyer Peter Royal said Thursday. “She’s going to live with this for the rest of her life.”

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Joanne Veit was to sentence Effert on Friday.

Effert told the judge she’s sorry and takes responsibility for what she did. Medical experts have testified that the 19-year-old had a disturbed mind when she strangled her baby boy with her thong underwear, then tossed him over a fence into a neighbour’s yard in Wetaskiwin in April 2005.

She earlier pleaded guilty to the charge of disposing of a body in order to conceal it and was sentenced to 90 days in jail.

“I wish I could take it all back, but I can’t,” Effert, now 25, told the court.

Royal described his client as an ordinary young woman who, while out on bail, works in her mother’s hair salon and is supported by her family’s church in the central Alberta community.

The case may not be over yet. The Crown is asking for leave to challenge the ruling of infanticide before the Supreme Court.

Prosecutors during Effert’s previous trials painted a picture of a clear-thinking killer who denied for days that the baby was hers, lied to investigators and tried to blame her boyfriend for the murder.

“That’s not showing remorse,” Crown lawyer John Laluk reminded the judge.