A jury has found a Toronto woman guilty of first-degree murder in the death of her severely disabled child.
Cindy Ali had pleaded not guilty in the February 2011 death of her 16-year-old daughter Cynara Ali, who had cerebral palsy and was unable to walk, talk or feed herself.
The jury returned the verdict Sunday afternoon, after one day of deliberations. Ali was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years, a term automatically imposed in first-degree murder convictions.
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Crown prosecutors had argued Ali smothered her daughter with a pillow in February 2011 and then spun an elaborate web of lies about an alleged home invasion to cover up the crime.
Ali's defence lawyers had argued Cynara was cherished by her mother and died either after seizures that might have been triggered by the alleged home invasion, or from a lung infection, to which she was known to be susceptible.
Speaking to reporters outside the courthouse, Ali's lawyers said they were disappointed with the verdict and that they expect to file an appeal.
"We thought we had raised a viable defence," said lawyer Christopher Hicks. "We thought we answered the Crown's issues in terms of how they were prosecuting her."
Ali and her family are "very upset," by the verdict, he added.
"I expect we'll have instructions…to proceed with an appeal," he said, adding there is a "lack of evidence" Ali staged the home invasion — a point on which much of the case revolved.
Ali testified she was home alone with Cynara one morning when two masked men in black suits rang her door bell and pushed their way into her home demanding a mysterious package, which they never found.
Ali said one of the men had a gun and made her take him through various rooms in the house in search of the elusive package while Cynara lay on the living room couch with the other man nearby.
At one point when she broke away from the man with the gun and ran to the living room, Ali testified she saw the second man with a pillow in his hand, standing by Cynara, who wasn't moving and was "very quiet" and pale.
Ali said the two men then left after announcing they had the wrong residence and she called 911 after shaking her daughter and finding her unresponsive.
Cynara was pulled off life support in a Toronto hospital in February 2011, two days after emergency personnel, responding to the 911 call, found her without vital signs.
The jury heard that Ali was the primary caregiver for Cynara and was home alone with her daughter on the morning she called 911.