A Crown lawyer urged a Toronto jury to reach a guilty verdict for a man charged with first-degree murder in the death of his daughter, saying Monday that his "reign of terror" over the girl was what killed her.
Everton Biddersingh has pleaded not guilty in the death of 17-year-old Melonie, whose charred body was found in a burning suitcase 21 years ago.
"His reign of terror over Melonie ultimately resulted in her death," said Crown prosecutor Mary Humphrey. "But for his actions or his omissions, Melonie would have been alive today. She would have been 38 years old."
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The case has taken two decades to get to trial because police weren't able to identify Melonie's remains for years until they received a tip that eventually led to the arrest of Biddersingh and his wife in March 2012.
The trial has heard that Melonie and two brothers came to Canada from Jamaica in 1991 to live with their father and stepmother.
Jurors have heard that Melonie — who dreamt of becoming a nurse — was not sent to school and suffered brutal beatings, food deprivation and gut-wrenching abuse at the hands of her father.
Melonie was treated like a slave, Humphrey said, and was "withering away" before her father's eyes but he did not stop mistreating her.
"Everton took away everything from Melonie," she said. "He took away her will to live."
'A high degree of malice'
Biddersingh viewed his daughter as a "traitor" after he believed she once took her stepmother's side during a marital dispute, Humphrey said.
Over the course of many months, Melonie was confined for hours in a tiny closet, had her head placed in a toilet that was flushed, was chained to the furniture at times, was deprived of food and was kicked, punched and thrown against walls by her father, the trial has heard.
"The evidence was clear that Everton had a real dislike for his daughter," Humphrey said. "He told (Melonie's older brother) Cleon he wished he had dropped her on the head as a baby."
After Melonie's death, Humphrey told the jury, Biddersingh tried to eliminate any evidence his daughter had even existed.
"He stuffed her in a suitcase, he took her to a remote area ... he set her on fire," she said. "Burning her body shows a high degree of malice."
The jury has heard that Biddersingh told friends and family, including Melonie's brother and her biological mother, that the girl had run away from home.
Multiple 'healing fractures' at time of death
The jury was told that Melonie died on Sept. 1, 1994 and weighed only about 50 pounds at the time.
Expert evidence indicated Melonie had 21 "healing fractures" in her ribs, spine, pelvis, right knee and left ankle that were caused three weeks to six months before her death.
It also indicated that Melonie had inhaled water shortly before her death.
A post mortem also found that Melonie had a piece of a vegetable inserted in her vagina when her body was found, court has head.
"One reasonable inference is there was a sexual assault," Humphrey said. "A degrading and demoralizing assault on Melonie's dignity."