A young Alberta woman hung her head in an Edmonton courtroom Tuesday as a judge denied her lawyer's request to set aside a jury verdict that found her guilty of second-degree murder in the death of her newborn baby in 2005.
In an unusual move, defence lawyer Peter Royal asked for the mistrial on Monday, arguing the case was clearly not murder, but infanticide, a lesser crime that carries a maximum sentence of five years. Mistrials are usually sought before a verdict is reached.
Justice Joanne Veit said the issue is one better left for the court of appeal to decide.
Katrina Effert, 23, had to be helped to her feet by two court officers as Justice Veit sentenced her to the minimum sentence of life in prison with no parole eligibility for 10 years.
Royal has said he will file an appeal.
When Effert was 19, she secretly gave birth in her parents' basement and strangled the baby boy with her underwear. Her lawyer, Peter Royal, argued it was a clear case of infanticide, a lesser crime that carries a maximum sentence of five years.
Upon hearing Veit's ruling Tuesday, Effert's family broke into loud sobs and wept audibly throughout the remainder of the court proceedings.
Effert, who admitted to killing her child, tried to plead guilty to infanticide at the start of the trial, but the Crown rejected the plea. She did plead guilty to disposing of a body in order to conceal it.
Effert strangled the newborn boy hours after giving birth to him in the basement of her parents' house in Wetaskiwin, Alta., and then tossed his body into a neighbour's yard.
The trial this month in Edmonton was Effort's second on charges connected to the newborn's death. She was charged in 2005 with second-degree murder, and a jury in Wetaskiwin found her guilty in the fall of 2006.
That verdict was overturned by Alberta's Court of Appeal in 2007.