Calgary mother guilty of manslaughter in daughter's death

A Calgary mother has been convicted of manslaughter in the strangulation of her 14-year-old daughter.
Aset Magomadova walks past media outside the Calgary courthouse on Wednesday before a judge handed down his decision. ((Doug Hanley/CBC))

A Calgary mother has been convicted of manslaughter in the strangulation of her 14-year-old daughter.

Aset Magomadova, 39, pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the death of daughter Aminat on Feb. 26, 2007.

On Wednesday, Justice Sal LoVecchio said the Crown did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Magomadova intended to kill Aminat, and found the mother guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The mother, "in an impulsive moment, may have simply lost it," the Court of Queen's bench judge said.

Magomadova showed no emotion as the decision was handed down.

"As she said on the stand, this in some ways it really doesn't matter," her lawyer, Mark Tyndale, told reporters outside the courtroom. "Yes, it affects the rest of her life, but her daughter is still dead, and that to her is the largest punishment that could ever be imposed."

Tyndale had asked for an acquittal, arguing his client was defending herself against an out-of-control teen. The judge-only trial heard of Aminat's troubled history of threatening to stab other students, running away from home, and boasting about drug use and stealing.

Aminat Magomadova's body was found in the family's southeast Calgary home in February 2007.

The teen had also pleaded guilty to assaulting a teacher.

On the day of the killing, the mother and daughter were arguing in their home because the teenager didn't want to go to a court appearance.

Aset wrapped a scarf around the girl's neck in an attempt to get her to drop a knife, Tyndale alleged.

However, Crown prosecutor Mac Vomberg argued that Magomadova was the aggressor, portraying her as a mother who had reached a breaking point with a rebellious child. He emphasized expert testimony that it took between 2½ and five minutes for the girl to die.

LoVecchio rejected the claim of self defence, and did not believe a knife was involved. He said the use of the scarf was inappropriate and troublesome, but did not believe Magomadova intended to kill her daughter.

Social system failed teen

Magomadova will remain free on bail until Oct. 16, when a date is set for sentencing. The Crown questioned whether bail was appropriate.

"This is a very serious event. There's signifcant likelihood that she will be in jail for a long period of time and it's something the Crown considers should be reviewed by the court when there is a conviction of manslaughter," said Vomberg.

Magomadova came to Canada from war-torn Chechnya in 2004 with her sister, as well as her own two children: Aminat, and a teenage son with muscular dystrophy.

Aminat was not able to get the kind of help she needed, Tyndale said on Wednesday.  

"There were a series of concerted cries for help from every authority here — the police, probations, the schools, social services and especially child welfare and not one of those bodies adequately dealt with this," said the defence lawyer.

"Not one of them responded to the call for the help. Not one of them dealt with Aminat in terms of getting her counselling and taking care of this sort of seething anger she had."

With files from Bryan Labby and Brooks Decillia