New Brunswick

Top court won't hear case of man accused in death of 2-year-old girl

Canada's top court has declined to hear an appeal in a case involving the 2004 death of Kennedy Corrigan. James Turpin was convicted of second-degree murder, but New Brunswick's Court of Appeal overturned it and ordered a new manslaughter trial.

James Turpin's conviction in death of Kennedy Corrigan overturned last fall, manslaughter trial ordered

James Turpin, shown leaving the courthouse in custody during his trial. (CBC)

Canada's top court won't hear an appeal in the case of the 2004 death of two-year-old Kennedy Corrigan.

James Paul Turpin was convicted of second-degree murder four years ago, but the conviction was overturned by New Brunswick's Court of Appeal last year based on errors by the trial judge. A new trial for manslaughter was ordered. 

The Crown asked the Supreme Court of Canada to hear the case. On Thursday, the Supreme Court declined to do so. 

As is standard, the Supreme Court did not issue reasons for not hearing the case. That effectively upholds the appeal court ruling calling for a new trial. 

The case is set to return to the Court of Queen's Bench in Fredericton on Monday, according to the public docket. 

Turpin was taking care of Kennedy on April 2, 2004, at her Central Blissville home south of Fredericton, while her mother was at work. Kennedy died in hospital as a result of a brain injury of unknown origin.

Two-year-old Kennedy Corrigan suffered a massive brain injury on April 2, 2004, and died a week later at the IWK Hospital in Halifax. (Court exhibit)

Turpin told authorities Kennedy fell and hit her head in the bathtub, but medical experts testified the toddler's brain injury wasn't consistent with a slip and fall from a standing position.

The Crown argued Turpin caused the traumatic injury by shaking her or by some other means of force. A jury found him guilty in June 2016.

Turpin appealed the conviction, arguing the trial judge didn't follow legal procedures by allowing more than five expert witnesses to testify at the trial.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Judy Clendening allowed 12 expert witnesses.

The Court of Appeal ordered the new trial based on that and other errors during the trial. 

Chief Justice Marc Richard's decision on behalf of the five-justice appeal court panel calls the jury's guilty verdict unreasonable.

"In my view, it is simply not possible to say that a jury properly instructed, acting judicially, could be satisfied that Mr. Turpin's guilt with the requisite intent for murder was the only reasonable conclusion available on the totality of the evidence," Richard wrote.