Closing arguments heard in case of girl accused of killing family
A Medicine Hat jury is expected to begin deliberations Monday in the case of a 13-year-oldaccused of killing her family.
The girl, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, is accused of first-degree murder in the deaths ofher parents andeight-year-old brother in their Medicine Hat home in April 2006.
Her boyfriend, Jeremy Steinke, 24, is also charged in the case, but has yet to go to trial.
The seven-man, five-womanjury took Thursday off, but was back in court Friday to hear lawyersonboth sides of the case deliver closing arguments. The judge will give instructions to jurors Monday before the case is put in their hands.
They must decide whether to believe the Crown's evidence and witnesses, who testified over the past four weeks, or the lone witness for the defence — the accused teen, who was just 12 when her family died.
The teen's lawyer, Tim Foster, said in his final arguments Fridaythat there are several elements missing if jurors are to believe that she and Steinke planned the slayings of her parents and younger brother.
"Although she talked about it, although she said those things, she never, ever meant it," he said in the packed courtroom. "In order to find her guilty you have to find that intent. You have to find that she intended for Jeremy to kill her family."
The pair didn't have a destination in mind to run away to, she hadn't packed a bag, and Steinke left her atthe family's homeafter the slayings.Thelawyer saidthat proves there wasn't any foresight on her part that would suggest the girl orchestrated the slayings.
On the stand earlier this week, the accused said herboyfriend led the attack and she did nothing to stop him because she was in a dream-like state.
"I was like a zombie. I could barely function," the teen testified on Wednesday. "It didn't even enter my mind to call 911."
In her closing arguments, Crown lawyer Stephanie Cleary told jurors the girl's testimony was unbelievable and her explanation of being in a trance-like state cannot be trusted.
"You cannot rely on it, it cannot raise a reasonable doubt in your mind about her guilt," Cleary said.
"The reason her tale doesn't make sense is not because she's 12, and not because she was involved with Jeremy, but because it's not true."
The girl was not "a zombie" that night, but was thinking clearly and following a plan, Cleary told the jurors.
Cleary told the court that after the killings, the girl packed some clothes, stole her mother's bankcard, went to a nearby convenience store to take money out ofa bank machine and hailed a taxi to Steinke's trailer.
Hours later, she andSteinke had sex at a friend's apartment and were seen cuddling at a party, Cleary said.
At no time did the girl call police, seek help or check on her family to see if they were still alive, Cleary said.
In her cross-examination earlier in the week,Clearypointed out that the girl had plenty of opportunities to get help or stop her boyfriend.
"If there wasn't a plan, you would have begged him to stop," Cleary said.
The accused denied this. "There was no plan," she said quietly.
If convicted, shewill face a maximumsentence ofsix years in custody followed by four years supervision in the community.
With files from the Canadian Press