Daughter seeks justice for mother who died before Saskatoon domestic assault trial
Trial considered unusual given Crown pursuing charge after alleged victim's death
MerandaFrerichs wants her stepfather held accountable for allegations he violently assaulted her mother before her death last month.
Frerichs says she was 14 years old when she confronted her mother about frequent injuries on her mom's body.
Raylene Frerichs had gone to the hospital many times, and Meranda didn't believe her mother's reason for the trips to the ER.
Raylene had divorced Meranda's father two years earlier. Meranda said her stepfather, Michael Welsh, had a violent temper.
"She had big bruises on her arms, she broke her finger or something like that and then she was like, I was working and a pot fell on my head.- Meranda Frerichs
She suspected that he was taking his anger out on her mother.
So Meranda, and her younger sister and brother sat her down.
"We approached her about it, six years ago, because there were two or three incidents that happened all back to back where she ended up getting stitches, she had big bruises on her arms, she broke her finger or something like that and then she was like, I was working and a pot fell on my head or, oh, I slipped and fell down the stairs," she said.
"Why does this always happen when we're not home? Cause he always hurt her when we weren't at the house that week. We just kind of approached her about it and then she ended up telling us what was happening."
At the time, Welsh was in jail awaiting trial on a charge of aggravated assault.
It's alleged that he had violently assaulted Raylene and had broken her arm. Police said they do not suspect foul play in her death.
Meranda claims that she witnessed similar incidents to what led to the police laying the aggravated assault charge.
The Crown is going ahead with the trial, even though the alleged victim is dead. Meranda will be testifying. She believes it's important that Welsh be held accountable for the charge against him.
Meranda said she was ill-equipped to deal with what she believed was happening to her mother.
But, even at 14, she believed it was not going to end well.
"Back then, like we tried to do the best that we could at our age. There's only so much that you can do, like phone the cops when the cops show up like they can't lay charges on anyone that's not there. And if my mom's not willing to go to the hospital and file a report we couldn't really do anything," she said.
"Him putting her in her grave, was the only way. For the last two years we told her he's going to be the reason she's in the grave."
That didn't happen, but police allege he beat her hard enough to break her arm.
Brent Cotter is a former deputy minister of justice who now teaches law at the University of Saskatchewan.
He said it's unusual, but not unprecedented, for the Crown to pursue a case where the alleged victim is dead.
"Presuming for the moment that this incident happened and can be proven, it holds the perpetrator accountable, and that's a kind of model of responsibility that I think we want for our society," Cotter said.
"So if in this case the case can be made out, it would be inappropriate, it sounds to me, as though the person should get a free pass because for other reasons the alleged victim has passed away."
Welsh's aggravated assault trial was adjourned when Frerichs died.
He's back in court later this month.