Manitoba Justice has won a legal battle to see a Winnipeg mother tried for second-degree murder in connection to the death of her two-year-old daughter.
Court of Queen's Bench Justice Brenda Keyser has ruled that a lower-court judge's decision that Nicole Redhead should be tried for manslaughter – and not a murder charge – was incorrect.
Redhead is accused of killing Jaylene Sanderson-Redhead last July and has been behind bars ever since.
Police allege the little girl died because of long-term abuse while the two were living at a treatment centre in Winnipeg's North End.
Officers were called to the treatment centre on June 29, 2009, and rushed Jaylene to the hospital where she was pronounced dead. Redhead was charged with second-degree murder about two weeks later.
At the conclusion of a preliminary inquiry to test the Crown's evidence, the provincial court judge hearing the case ruled Redhead should only face trial for manslaughter, which has no mandatory minimum sentence.
The Crown immediately appealed the judge's decision, saying she usurped her authority and made inferences about the evidence in the case that only the trial judge should have made.
Life sentence possible
A conviction for second-degree murder carries with it a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole eligibility for 10 years.
A court-ordered ban prevents the publication of any of the evidence given at any of the the pre-trial hearings, including the one where the Crown sought to quash the lesser homicide charge.
Because Keyer's decision involves a weighing of the Crown's evidence, her reasons cannot be printed or broadcast until the conclusion of the case.
Redhead's defence lawyer argued that the manslaughter charge should stand. It is not known if the mother plans to appeal Keyser's ruling to the Manitoba Court of Appeal.
A formal indictment charging Redhead with second-degree murder has not yet been drawn up, according to court records.
A trial date has not been set.
Jaylene had been in the care of an aboriginal child and family services agency, but it gave custody back to Redhead about six months before the girl's death on condition that the agency would supervise the pair closely.
The child's grandmother, Sky Sanderson, said she noticed bruises on her forehead and cheek at the funeral, but thought at the time that they were caused by a fall.