Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Crown seeks 12 years for mother guilty of killing daughter, 4

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A rural Manitoba mother says a lack of CFS help left her feeling "overwhelmed" in the days leading up to the killing of her four-year-old daughter.

The 34-year-old -- who can’t be named under a court order meant to protect the identities of two other children -- appeared in court Friday after pleading guilty to manslaughter to the October 2010 incident. Crown and defence lawyers completed their submissions in the troubling case, and provincial court Judge Sid Lerner said he would give his decision on Apr. 10.

The Crown is seeking a 12-year prison term, while woman has asked for eight years behind bars. She remains in custody without bail.

The little girl died in hospital of major injuries suffered from repeated assaults while living in the hamlet of Stuartburn, about 90 kilometres southeast of Winnipeg, just east of Highway 59. Two other children, a 13-year-old girl and a 18-month-old boy who resided in the household at the time, were apprehended by CFS.

Crown attorney Breta Passler said the woman initially claimed innocence, suggesting her daughter had fallen and injured herself. She later admitted the truth, saying she had beaten her on multiple occasions.

Defence lawyer Lisa Labossiere told court Friday her client was in desperate need of help after having her three children returned to her care about a year before the killing. The mother suffers from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and has a history of drug abuse and working in the sex trade.

"In terms of the (support) CFS gave, I’d suggest it was lacking," said Labossiere. She suggested the child welfare agency failed to follow through on suggested therapy and home respite which her client needed to properly care for her children.

"She was feeling extremely overwhelmed. (The accused) doesn’t have all the tools in the toolbox that you or I may have in terms of parenting," said Labossiere. "Child and Family Services does have a degree of responsibility."

The woman, her children and a boyfriend had just moved into the community about three weeks before the killing.

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