TORONTO - The “evil stepmother” and “coward” father convicted of
second-degree murder in what the judge called one of the worst cases of
child abuse in Canadian history are appealing their convictions and
asking for a new trial.
More than seven years after their trial,
which detailed horrific injuries seven-year-old Randal Dooley endured
as a result of brutal beatings, lawyers for Marcia and Edward “Tony”
Dooley will be appealing to Ontario's top court starting Monday.
of abuse left Randal incontinent and unable to keep food down before
his death in September 1998. Along with a tapestry of scars and
bruises, a post-mortem on Randal's emaciated, 40-pound body discovered
13 broken ribs, a lacerated liver and a tooth in his stomach.
the 2002 trial, Marcia Dooley, whom the trial judge labelled Randal's
“cruel, vengeful and evil stepmother,” was characterized as the primary
abuser. Testimony described thrashings she inflicted on the boy and one
instance when she forced him to eat his vomit. She was sentenced to
life in prison with no chance of parole for 18 years.
Her husband, Tony Dooley, was sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 13 years.
The judge described him as a “coward” for “ignoring Randal's plight as Marcia's whipping boy.”
defence lawyer Marie Henein is representing Marcia Dooley and has
advanced several grounds in her appeal. She charges the judge erred in
instructions to the jury about prior abuse.
evidence of prior abuse...could only have aroused the jury's emotions,
thereby potentially deflecting them from a dispassionate and rational
assessment of the evidence without meaningful guidance as to its
relevance in the context of the case,” Henein writes.
filed with Ontario's Court of Appeal also show Marcia Dooley is
appealing her sentence because of the disparity between the couple's
parole eligibility lengths.
Ontario Superior Court Justice
Eugene Ewaschuk said at the time that Randal's father would be eligible
for parole sooner than his wife because Ewaschuk was “convinced beyond
a reasonable doubt that Marcia Dooley dealt the blow that killed
Randal” and that she administered 90 per cent of the beatings he
Tony Dooley's lawyer Clayton Ruby, another big legal
name, also lists several grounds for appeal in court documents,
including the use of inflammatory language.
“The repetitive use
of highly subjective and sentimental characterizations of Randal Dooley
undermined the jury's ability to be objective in a case dealing with an
obviously emotional and disturbing set of facts,” Ruby writes.
“There are, regretfully, a large number of judicial comments which
refer to `poor, pitiful Randal.' Indeed, a juror might well think that
this was Randal Dooley's proper name.”
Just months before
Randal's death, his birth mother, Raquel Burth, sent Randal to Canada
from Jamaica to have a better life with his father and his new wife.
Medical experts said Randal died of a brain injury likely caused by