Shelby Herchak pleads guilty to manslaughter in baby's death

A Calgary woman has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of her newborn boy three years ago.

Calgary mother's 2nd-degree murder trial was set to start this week for infant's 2010 killing

A Calgary woman has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of her newborn boy three years ago.

Shelby Herchak’s trial on the more serious charge of second-degree murder in the death of 26-day-old Daniel was scheduled to get underway this week.

But on Oct. 10 her lawyer told a Calgary courtroom Herchak would instead be entering a plea.

"I think it gives everybody some closure," said Kim Ross, Herchak's defence lawyer. "Essentially what it was was a manslaughter plea that she didn't intentionally cause the death of the child."

Herchak's infant son died 10 hours after being rushed by paramedics to the Alberta Children's Hospital on Aug. 9, 2010.

Daniel suffered a blunt-force head trauma, which an autopsy indicated was not accidental.

In an agreed statement of facts, lawyers for the Crown and Herchak said the force of the trauma was similar to forces that would be seen in a motor vehicle collision or a fall from a height around three metres (10 feet).

There were postings on Facebook alleging the 18-year-old new mother was partying at a nightclub in the hours before Daniel’s death, said Acting Insp. Doug Andrus at the time of the investigation.

The statement acknowledges the differing explanations initially offered by Herchak as to her son's injuries. 

According to the document, she told medical staff that Daniel may have either fallen off a bed in a car seat or been struck by the tail of a dog while in the car seat.

The Crown and defence lawyers agreed these explanations would not account for Daniel's injuries and that his symptoms would have occurred within seconds or minutes after the injuries were inflicted.

"She's coping with it as best as she can," said Ross. "I think she's anxious to get everything over with as everybody that's involved in this matter is."

Neither the Crown nor Herchak's lawyer have indicated what they will seek in terms of sentencing.

A psychological report has been ordered by the judge who will set a date for sentencing later this year.

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