An Alberta judge has granted a woman accused of killing her newborn the right to having her trial heard outside of her small hometown community.
In September 2006, a jury found Katrina Effert guilty of second-degree murder in the death of her son in Wetaskiwin, roughly 70 kilometres south of Edmonton.
But the Alberta Court of Appeal ordered a new trial and overturned her conviction a year later, citing how the jury may not have understood the legal differences between second-degree murder and the lesser charge of infanticide.
Justice Joanne Viet ruled yesterday that there are serious concerns in finding an impartial jury when a community includes former jurors who have already found her guilty.
Extensive media coverage of the first trial, along with the sensitive nature of the alleged crime which stirs emotions, are also contributing factors, Viet noted.
“The stigma of a well publicized murder conviction imposed on Ms. Effert by a jury from that community is a difficult burden to overcome,” she stated in her written submission to the court.
A new trial will now be held in either Red Deer or Edmonton, based on discussions with her defence lawyer and the Crown prosecutor.
During her first trial, court heard that Effert had hidden her pregnancy from her parents, secretly given birth and then strangled the baby.
The baby’s body was found four days later in the back of a neighbour’s yard.
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