Woman who strangled newborn had ’imbalance of mind’, doctor tells jury

EDMONTON — An Alberta woman was suffering from an “imbalance of the mind” when she strangled her newborn son and tossed his body into a neighbour’s yard, says a psychiatrist.

EDMONTON — An Alberta woman was suffering from an “imbalance of the mind” when she strangled her newborn son and tossed his body into a neighbour’s yard, says a psychiatrist.

Dr. Vijay Singh of Alberta Hospital testified Thursday at the second-degree murder trial of Katrina Effert, 23.

Singh, who interviewed Effert for about 10 hours, told jurors the imbalance could have stemmed from either giving birth or from some other emotional or organic reasons.

The psychiatrist testified he ruled out that Effert, who was 19 at the time of the birth, was suffering from post-partum depression or any psychosis.

Singh told the jury that Effert was “quite traumatized” and “quite distraught” during her month-long stay at Alberta Hospital, adding she had problems eating and sleeping and had dreams about the incident.

“She felt completely out of order,” said Singh. As well, he testified she was depressed and felt like she had “betrayed her parents” and also felt “quite guilty” and that she needed “some punishment.”

Singh testified that Effert denied suffering any kind of abuse at home, either emotional, physical or sexual.

Effert told Singh the baby’s father was an estranged boyfriend and the pregnancy had not been planned.

“She felt betrayed that he chose to dump her,” said Singh.

At the start of the trial, Effert tried to plead guilty to a reduced charge of infanticide in the April 18, 2005, death, but the Crown rejected the plea.

She did plead guilty to a 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 12-day trial.

Last week, the jury watched a videotaped police interview of Effert in which she tearfully revealed what had happened after she gave birth alone in a basement bathroom at her family home in Wetaskiwin, south of Edmonton, following a secret pregnancy.

The baby boy, later named Rodney David, was born alive and well. But when he began crying, Effert said she got “scared” her parents would hear and come downstairs.

“I panicked,” she said, admitting she dropped the infant before picking him up and covering his face with a towel.

“And then I put him face down,” she said softly. “And then I wrapped the underwear around his neck because I wanted him to stop crying.”

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