Crown tells jury mother accused of killing daughter lied, as deliberations begin

The jury has begun deliberations in the murder trial of a Toronto woman accused of smothering her severely disabled child to death with a pillow.

Prosecutor tells court the accused is lying about alleged home invasion

Cynara Ali, 16, had cerebral palsy and could not walk, talk or feed herself. The Crown has argued her mother, Cindy Ali, murdered her. (Toronto Police Service)

The jury has begun deliberations in the murder trial of a Toronto woman accused of smothering her severely disabled child to death with a pillow.

Cindy Ali has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the February 2011 death of her 16-year-old daughter Cynara Ali, who had cerebral palsy. She was unable to walk, talk or feed herself. 

Judge Todd Ducharme reminded the jury Friday that Ali doesn't have to prove her innocence and it's up to Crown prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she killed the girl. 

The judge continued his instructions Saturday before releasing the jury to begin its analysis at noon.

Lawyers presented closing arguments Friday, with the Crown alleging Ali killed her daughter by smothering her with a pillow, arguing that Ali created an elaborate web of lies about a home invasion to cover up the crime.

"You can be sure the home invasion is a story, and by story I mean a lie, invented by Cindy Ali," Crown prosecutor Rosemarie Juginovic said.

Ali wiped away tears as the Crown wrapped up arguments in the Toronto courtroom.

Defence lawyer Christopher Hicks argued Ali had no reason to kill her daughter and that the deeply religious woman would have never done that. He said the family had good medical coverage to look after Cynara.

Hicks said of the Crown's assertion that Ali killed her daughter: "Are you kidding?"

The defence said there's no evidence to suggest Cynara was suffocated. Hicks told the court the cardiac arrest the teenager suffered was brought on by a seizure, likely caused by stress.

Accused testified in own defence

Earlier this week, Ali testified in her own defence, saying Cynara died following an alleged home invasion.

She said two masked intruders burst into her house and she threw steak knives at one of the alleged assailants. She said one of the men took her to the basement of her home while his accomplice remained in the living room with Cynara. 

When she returned to the living room, she testified that the second man had a pillow in his hand and was standing near her daughter.

Ali said the masked pair announced during the home invasion that they had the wrong house and they left.

She testified she called 911, but said she passed out while she was on the phone with the operator. When paramedics arrived, they found Cynara without vital signs.

The court also heard that a letter arrived at the Ali home weeks after the alleged break-in. Ali testified her husband found it in the mailbox and it appeared to be from the intruders.

Juginovic insisted Ali wrote the letter but she denied the accusation.

An autopsy found Cynara's immediate cause of death was a brain injury from deprivation of oxygen, which was caused by cardiac arrest. That cardiac arrest, court heard, could have been caused by suffocation.