Canada

Mother found not responsible in death of disabled daughter

Posted: February 20, 2002

A Montreal-area woman wasn't criminally responsible for killing her disabled teenage daughter last year, a judge ruled on Wednesday.

Rachel Capra Craig, 47, was in Quebec Superior Court on Wednesday, charged with first-degree murder in the death of 14-year-old Chelsea last March.

But after hearing testimony from psychiatrists about her mental state at the time of the killing, Justice Fraser Martin ruled she "is not criminally responsible for the death of her daughter by reason of mental disorder."

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Chelsea died after her mother gave her a lethal dose of prescription drugs. Rachel Capra Craig was also found in the family's Pointe Claire, Quebec, house with an overdose of the same poison cocktail.

Capra Craig's lawyer Marc David said his client gave her daughter the drugs. The defence contended, however, that she couldn't be held criminally responsible. The crown and the judge agreed.

Psychiatrists who examined her concluded that Capra Craig was suffering from a paranoid delusional disorder.

Dr. Renee Fugere testified that Capra Craig wanted to protect her child from the girl's father, who she believed was sexually abusing her. An autopsy found no evidence of sexual abuse and experts determined the accusations against James Craig were false.

Police found a suicide note in Chelsea's bedroom signed by Rachel Capra Craig saying she wanted to donate her savings and insurance money to charities.

Psychiatrists concluded she wanted to kill herself, but decided to kill her daughter as well when she realized the severely disabled girl would be left in her father's care.

Chelsea Craig suffered from an extreme case of Rett syndrome, a neurological disorder that affects mainly girls. The condition prevented Chelsea from speaking, feeding herself, breathing normally or using the toilet. She had severe food allergies, could not be in the sunlight for more than a few minutes and often had diarrhea.