Katrina Effert pushed her straight, blond hair out of her eyes, shook, and wept silently as details of the secret birth, strangulation, and disposal of her newborn son were read aloud in Court of Queen’s Bench yesterday.

In the first hours of her trial, the now 23-year-old pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of infanticide, which was rejected by the Crown. Her fate now lies in the hands of a jury of six men and six women, who will decide if she is guilty of second-degree murder.

Effert has admitted to concealing her pregnancy and delivering baby Rodney alone in the basement of her parent’s Wetaskiwin home when she was 19 in April 2005, Crown prosecutor Rob Robbenhaar told the jury in his opening statement.

Robbenhar added that Effert previously admitted to police that she strangled the infant with a pair of orange thong underpants, wrapped his body in a towel and tossed him in a neighbour’s cluttered yard
During the investigation Effert was questioned multiple times by police. She admitted the crime after submitting a DNA sample, but before a forced internal medical examination, the Crown stated.

Effert’s lawyer, high-profile defence attorney Peter Royal, called the case “sad and tragic,” leaving jurors with the suggestion she was suffering from a “disturbed mind, perhaps soul, and much, much more than that” at the time of the infant’s death.

He added that Effert had no prenatal care or support from the baby’s father throughout her pregnancy.

She was accompanied to court by family members, including her parents, who did not enter the courtroom with her.

If convicted of second-degree murder, Effert would face the possibility of a life sentence.

Effert pleaded guilty to concealing the baby’s body. She will be sentenced on that charged when the trial ends.

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