Toronto

Coroner to hold inquest into death of Katelynn Sampson

A coroner’s inquest into the death of Katelynn Sampson, who was seven years old when she died while in the care of her legal guardians, will begin this fall, the coroner’s office announced Thursday.

Sampson was seven years old when she died in the care of her legal guardians

The inquest into the death of seven-year-old Katelynn Sampson, heard from the girl's former teacher Cathy Seto Friday.

A coroner's inquest into the death of Katelynn Sampson, who was seven years old when she died after months of abuse at the hands of her legal guardians, will begin this fall, the coroner's office announced Thursday.

The inquest is scheduled to begin on November 9, and is expected to last four weeks and will hear from about 30 witnesses, according to a press release from Dr. Roger Skinner, regional supervising coroner for central region, Toronto west division.

The announcement comes seven years after Sampson died while in the care of Donna Irving and Warren Johnson, who her mother had named her legal guardians while she tried to get her life in order.

Police were called to an apartment at 105 West Lodge Ave. in Parkdale on Aug. 3, 2008 and found the little girl with obvious signs of trauma. Veteran homicide detectives described the child's injuries as the worst they had ever seen.

Irving had called 911 to say that the girl had choked while eating and had stopped breathing.

However, an autopsy revealed 70 injuries, including bruising, contusions, abrasions, lacerations and fractures throughout her body. Her injuries would have been so severe that speaking, eating or drinking would have been very difficult, the medical report said at the time.

Katelynn died not by choking, but due to complications from multiple blunt-force injuries.

'I regret it every day'

Irving, 33, and Johnson, 50, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and were sentenced to life in prison, with no chance of parole for 15 years.

During the sentencing hearing, Irving told court that she was haunted by Sampson's death.

"I wish it had happened to me, not to her," Irving told court.

"I can't sleep without seeing Katelynn's face. For the rest of my life, that girl will haunt me."

The child's mother, Bernice Sampson, told reporters at that time that she regretted placing her trust in Irving and Johnson.

"I regret it every day," she said. "That's what happens when you trust your friends."

The court heard that emergency crews were initially not sure whether they were treating a girl or a boy because Katelynn's hair had been cut off. Paramedics observed "significant" trauma to the girl's body, including blunt force injuries to her scalp, face, torso and extremities.

Forensic investigators later found further signs of abuse. They found the child's blood throughout the apartment, including in closets, and on the walls and furniture. A plastic baseball bat and a book were also stained with the girl's blood.

Neither of Irving and Johnson's two sons showed signs of injuries.

7 years later

The coroner's inquest was called in July 2012, nearly four years after the death of the girl.

A call to Skinner's office asking why the inquest date has been set seven years after Katelynn's death and three years after an inquest was first announced was not immediately returned.

The inquest will look at the events surrounding the child's death, and may include recommendations on how to prevent similar deaths in the future.

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