PEI

Court case of woman charged with infanticide adjourned until next month

The case of a 39-year-old Charlottetown woman charged in the deaths of two infants was in court briefly Thursday. Due to the complex nature of the investigation and the charges, the case was adjourned to Aug. 23.

Paperwork on complex investigation still being compiled, says the Crown

Shannon Dawn Rayner is accused of infanticide in the deaths of two newborns, in 2014 and 2016. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The case of a 39-year-old Charlottetown woman charged in the deaths of two infants was in court briefly Thursday.

Shannon Dawn Rayner is accused of infanticide in the deaths of two newborns, in 2014 and 2016.

She was not in court Thursday but was represented by lawyer Thane MacEachern.

The judge adjourned the case to Aug. 23 given the complexity of the investigation and the serious nature of the charges.

"The investigating officer is still putting all of the paperwork for the file together at this time," Crown attorney Valerie Moore said in an interview with CBC News after court.

Crown Attorney Valerie Moore said the investigating officer is still putting together information for the file. (Julien Lecacheur/CBC)

"It does take some amount of time to have the full file compiled and for us to then have that disclosed to the defence."

Rayner was charged last week after an investigation by Charlottetown police that began more than a year ago, in March 2017.

'It's devastating'

Ray MacKinnon, who identified himself as Rayner's uncle, also spoke with CBC News after court. He urged people not to rush to judge his niece.

"I just wish the world would get off Facebook and stop calling her a baby killer," he said.

Ray MacKinnon, who told CBC News he is Shannon Rayner's uncle, urged people not to rush to judge his niece. (Julien Lecacheur/CBC)

"It's devastating to all my family, especially her grandmother. It's really hurting her a lot."

MacKinnon said he hadn't seen his niece in six months but showed up for the court hearing in case she was going to be there.

"If Shannon sees this, I love you very much. Uncle Ray loves you," he said.

Infanticide defined

Rayner has not entered a plea to any of the six charges against her: two of infanticide, two of failing to seek assistance in child birth and two counts of disposing of the dead body of a child with the intent to conceal the fact it had been delivered.

The Criminal Code of Canada describes the charge of infanticide in this way: "A female person commits infanticide when by a wilful act or omission she causes the death of her newly-born child, if at the time of the act or omission she is not fully recovered from the effects of giving birth to the child and by reason thereof or of the effect of lactation consequent on the birth of the child her mind is then disturbed."

According to court documents, the two babies died in February 2014 and November 2016  "within a short time" of birth and were disposed of in a waste bin.

Police have said they believe the babies were born alive and full-term. They said they have not found the remains.

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With files from Brittany Spencer

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