Loud sobs and expressions of disbelief filled a packed Truro courtroom yesterday as Judge Alan Tufts rendered his not guilty verdict in the manslaughter case against Terry Dean Allen.
"Oh my God,” a shocked and anguished Aleisha Mercer reacted as the judge read his decision against her daughter’s accused killer.
Mercer then immediately began wailing and crying as family and supporters helped her from the courtroom.
Moments later, as Allen, 28, stepped outside the court building he was assailed with angry shouts, curses and taunts before being whisked away by his lawyer from the embittered crowd.
Three-year-old Samantha Marie Mercer died in early March 2005 after sustaining massive brain damage and other injuries while under Allen’s care in the Brunswick Street home he shared with her mother, who was at work when the injuries occurred. Samantha died two days later after being removed from life support at the IWK Children’s Hospital.
The June trial, held up in part because of the busy schedule of an expert Crown witness, lasted almost three weeks.
Supporters of the Mercer family shouted words of hate toward Allen and expressed bitter disappointment over what they viewed as flawed justice for Samantha.
Tufts said in provincial court that while he doesn't “accept or believe” all of Allen's testimony surrounding the girl's death, it is not the role of a trial judge to discover “what happened.”
He said his duty was to determine if the Crown proved beyond a reasonable doubt if Allen was responsible for the little girl's death. “The Crown failed to do this,” Tufts said in a 61-page written decision.
The Crown alleged Allen injured the girl by deliberately slamming her head into a bedroom wall.
But Allen insisted the girl was hurt during a fall down a flight of stairs with a large dog - a claim that drew conflicting testimony during his trial earlier this year.
-with files from The Canadian Press