'I'm so sorry': Father of toddler found dead outside Edmonton church sentenced

Joey Crier "was obligated to protect his son — not harm him," an Edmonton judge said Tuesday as he read his decision.

The toddler's body was found outside Edmonton's Good Shepherd Anglican Church in 2017.

The body of 19-month-old Anthony Raine was found in Edmonton, and the toddler's father and his father's girlfriend are charged with his second-degree murder. (Facebook)

A man who was convicted of manslaughter in his young son's death was sentenced Tuesday to 9½ years in prison after apologizing to the rest of the boy's family.

Joey Crier and his then-girlfriend, Tasha-Lee Doreen Mack, were each charged with second-degree murder in the death of 19-month-old Anthony Joseph Raine.

The toddler's lifeless body was found outside Edmonton's Good Shepherd Anglican Church in 2017.

Crier and Mack were each found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter in separate trials.

Crier, 29, appeared by video Tuesday in Court of Queen's Bench for his sentencing hearing.

"I'm truly and deeply sorry that this tragedy has even happened in the first place," Crier wrote in a statement entered into the court record before he was sentenced. "I'm so sorry."

Court also heard victim impact statements from Anthony's mother, uncle and a court worker.

"I trusted this guy with my son," Dalyce Raine said in her statement that was read by a friend. "I didn't want to believe it that my son was gone. Nobody knows how much I miss him."

She said Crier doesn't know how much he took from her.

"He had no right to do that," said Raine. "I just want to know why. Why couldn't he just give him back to me instead of putting him through the pain and hurt?"

Crier said in his statement that he let ugliness into his life and that he failed as a father.

"I failed and I've cried every night for the last 39 months," he wrote. "One can only apologize so many times before it loses its meaning.

Mr. Crier did nothing to protect Anthony from further harm.- Justice David Labrenz

"But I'll be saying and will be sorry for the rest of my life to every one of you."

Video entered into evidence showed Crier and Mack pushing a stroller around the church three days before Anthony's body was found propped up against an outer wall of the building.

A passerby noticed the boy and ran into the church distraught and crying. Women in the church who then ran outside to help testified about finding Anthony covered in a blue patchwork quilt. They weren't able to find a pulse.

The women saw bruising on his face and saw blood coming out of his ear.

Following an extensive investigation, police arrested Crier and Mack. Court heard they had used methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana in the weeks before the child died.

Medical experts testified Anthony's cause of death was related to head trauma.

The Crown and the defence jointly submitted that Crier should spend 9½ years in prison, with credit for time served, and extra credit for time in protective custody.

Justice David Labrenz said he agreed with the recommendation.

"Anthony was Mr. Crier's son, and Mr. Crier was obligated to protect his son — not harm him," the judge said as he read his decision. "Mr. Crier did nothing to protect Anthony from further harm."

Labrenz said he accepted the findings of a Gladue report, which takes into account the circumstances of Indigenous offenders. It showed Crier had a difficult childhood and turned to substance abuse at a young age.

"I have no doubt that the use of crystal methamphetamine contributed to the assault and offences themselves," Labrenz said. "It manifested itself in Mr. Crier's apparent lack of caring or empathy for Anthony.

"This does not excuse Mr. Crier's own conduct."

In the Gladue report, Crier said the baby died in his arms.

"Then I didn't know what to think or feel," he wrote.

"I was so lost, the last thing I remember, I tried to kill myself that day too, I injected myself with meth, a high dose, and the last thing I remember overhearing Tash say she did something she shouldn't have done.

"I blacked out at Tasha's mom's house, I blacked out at the police station downtown, when I came to, I was here [Remand]."

Crier's overall sentence was reduced by 6½ years, because he has been assaulted in jail and has spent much of his time there segregated in protective custody. It means three years remain on Crier's sentence.

"Mr. Crier, I know you are going to have some time to think about what you've done," the judge said at the end of the hearing. "I hope that you use this opportunity to better yourself.

"You will be aware that many in the community are justifiably shocked by what you did."

Mack was previously sentenced to 8½ years in prison for her role in the child's death.

'There was not justice done'

Luci Johnson, a court worker speaking on behalf of the Raine family, said Crier's sentence was disheartening. She doesn't believe he will serve the full sentence and believes he will be back in the community on parole before the remaining three years are up.

"There was not justice done," she said outside the court building after the decision, criticizing the statement Crier had penned for its lack of reference to the toddler.

"You were ultimately found guilty of manslaughter for your son," she said. "Of course you failed as a father."

Johnson said the family must now try to move forward and let Anthony's spirit rest.

"His mom needs to find closure, his uncle who's been such a strong advocate for us just within the little group that we have," she said. 

"And that's going to be the hardest thing today."

With files from Janice Johnston