Monday, 12 December 2011

FILICIDE: by animals

 Dec 11 2011
Donovan Vincent Staff Reporter
Female polar bear Aurora killed two of her cubs in October and had a third one taken away. She has been at the Toronto zoo since 2001. 
Female polar bear Aurora killed two of her cubs in October and had a third one taken away. She has been at the Toronto zoo since 2001.
Are they bad mothers for abandoning, injuring, or even killing their newborns? Take Aurora, the popular female polar bear at the Toronto zoo, for example. She killed two of her cubs in October, and had a third one taken away by zoo staff for hand-rearing to prevent a similar fate. She did the same thing the year prior, killing two of her cubs at birth by partially eating them. It is well known that males will attack or eat their young and others, but mothers failing to care for their young, and animal infanticide in general is a touchy, almost taboo subject for major zoos, including Toronto’s. After all it doesn’t exactly drive attendance. Yet it’s a phenomenon staff deal with and one that can be traumatizing for zookeepers, say Toronto zoo officials. “It’s not uncommon, even with domestic animals. Some mothers just aren’t good (at being) mothers,” explains Dr. Graham Crawshaw, the Toronto zoo’s senior veterinarian. “Anyone who works with wild animals knows this isn’t uncommon or a reflection on this zoo, or zoos generally. It’s animals. Some animals do better than others. You can’t predict,” explained Crawshaw, who was reticent to discuss the issue with the Star. Infanticide in the wild is common and occurs for a variety of reasons, says Mark Fitzpatrick assistant professor in the biology department at the University of Toronto, and an expert in animal behaviour, mating and aggression. For example, in the case of lions, a new male might take over a pride and kill all the offspring. “That will reset all the females into estrous, and he can maximize his reproductive success by mating with those females. That sort of scenario also happens with Colobine monkeys,’’ says Fitzpatrick. But such behaviour is typically driven by male aggression, he says. “Males are more likely to do the killing. With females it’s less common,” Fitzpatrick says. One theory found in scientific literature on parental infanticide suggests it’s part of “normal’’ maternal behaviour where a female can adjust her litter size to suit her ability to raise offspring. Or, as Fitzpatrick notes, the female may do it because she simply wants to mate with a new male. Animal rights activists charge that captivity is a major source of anxiety causing females to destroy their young. “I think it’s fair to say that in most cases of infanticide, it’s related to stressors, whether it’s in the wild or in captivity,’’ says Zoocheck Canada director Julie Woodyer. She says zoos claim that when the keep animals in captivity they’ve removed “stressors’’ that animals would face in the wild, such as lack of food. “One of the primary reasons polar bears would kill their own cubs in the wild is because there isn’t enough food even for them to eat,’’ says Woodyer. But this problem doesn’t exist in captivity, she says, yet moms such as Aurora are still experiencing difficulties rearing offspring, Woodyer notes. “Once you remove those stressors these problems shouldn’t exist, but they do because zoos have created different kinds of stressors for the animals because they haven’t evolved to cope in that small environment. Polar bears are wide ranging carnivores that don’t do well when you confine them,’’ Woodyer argues. To learn more about infanticide and maternal care issues with polar bears, the Toronto zoo is collecting the animals’ fecal and urine samples and trying to get a handle on their reproductive cycles and pregnancy. Toronto is working with other zoos, which in turn are collaborating with biologists and researchers working in the wild. There are challenges however to studying maternal care in the wild because of the secretive nature of den sites for polar bears and other species. Crawshaw argues one theory cannot fully explain infanticide and failure to rear issues involving females. He believes it’s largely tied to the disposition of the individual creature. To make his point he describes the unusual maternal care case with Nokanda, the late female white lion who abandoned six of her cubs. On two separate occasions she abandoned her newborns immediately after zoo staff separated them from her to do veterinary checks to ensure the offspring were healthy. “(The first time) we put them back with her … she never touched the cubs again ... She didn’t want anything to do with them. That was enough disturbance for her,’’ explains Crawshaw. Zoo staff have separated moms from their cubs — other lions, tigers, cheetahs etc. — and those moms were absolutely fine once their pups were returned, he says. In the second batch the following year, Toronto zoo staff waited 10 weeks before vaccinating the other set of Nokanda’s cubs — she’d been a good mother to them up to that point. “We took them out, gave them their shots, checked them out (but) she never touched them again. That was that animal. We had to feed them. Now they’re big strapping animals. “Again, each animal is different,’’ says Crawshaw. As for Aurora, she was an inexperienced mom the first time she had babies, Crawshaw said, and was in an unfamiliar environment in the zoo’s new enclosure. Aurora came to the zoo in 2001 after she and sister Nikita, both cubs at the time, were found wandering the wilderness alone, their mom apparently shot by a hunter. They were loaned to a polar bear habitat in Northern Ontario, and returned to Toronto in 2009. In the past the zoo has had other polar bears who failed to raise their young, staff say. Troubled mothers at the Toronto Zoo   Female polar bear Aurora killed two of her cubs in October and had a third one taken away. She did the same thing in 2010, killing two newborn cubs.    Tatiana, a Siberian tiger, gave birth to two cubs in 2000. One was found dead, the other alive but missing a leg that had been bitten off by mom. The cub was euthanized.    Nokanda, a female white lion that passed away this summer, gave birth to four cubs in 1999 and two the following year, and abandoned all of them. Three in the first litter died, and one needed to be hand-reared. Two in the second litter required hand-rearing.    Erin, a Himalayan tahr (wild goat), abandoned one of her two surviving babies, which needed to be hand-reared.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

FILICIDE (adoptive):Investigators put U.S. adoptive couple who killed Russian boy on wanted list

Investigators put U.S. adoptive couple who killed Russian boy on wanted list
MOSCOW, November 21 (RIA Novosti)
The Russian Investigative Committee put on Monday the U.S. couple who was convicted by a U.S. court in the involuntarily manslaughter of their adopted Russian son on the international wanted list.
A Pennsylvania court ruled on Friday that Michael and Nannette Craver, who were found guilty in the involuntarily manslaughter of their adopted Russian son, Ivan, must serve from 16 months to four years. Since they had already spent about eighteen months in jail, they were released from the courtroom.
The Investigative Committee has handed documents on the case to the Russian Interpol office to put the couple on the international wanted list. The investigators also appealed to the Moscow Basmanny District Court to put the Cravers behind bars.
Seven-year-old Nathaniel Craver (Ivan Skorobogatov), died in August 2009 at a hospital in Pennsylvania. Doctors said the boy died of injuries and malnutrition. They discovered more than 80 injuries on his body, including 20 on his head.
The Cravers were arrested in February 2010 and denied all the charges brought against them, saying the boy suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome and attachment disorders. The couple's defense said his injuries were self-inflicted.
Prosecutors demanded the death sentence for the couple. The jury however found them partially guilty, dismissing the charges of the deliberate murder of the boy.
The Russian Foreign Ministry on Saturday slammed the sentence, calling it “flagrant irresponsibility” of the U.S. judicial system.
Since 1991, a total of 17 adopted Russian children have died worldwide as a result of beatings or negligence, according to official Russian statistics.

FILICIDE (multiple): Michigan: Sharon Hinojosa Sentenced to Life

Sharon Hinojosa Sentence
By ED WHITE   11/30/11
DETROIT -- Calling it a "horrendous" crime, a judge sentenced a Detroit-area mother to life in prison Wednesday for setting a fire that trapped and killed two of her children in a mobile home.
Sharon Hinojosa says the tragedy in Huron Township was an accident. But prosecutors accused her of intentionally setting the fire in a bid to improve her relationship with a boyfriend, the father of another child who escaped the blaze in Hinojosa's arms.
Wayne County Circuit Judge Daniel Hathaway said Hinojosa's acts in 2009 "constituted a complete betrayal of what being a mother stands for."
She was convicted earlier this month of first-degree murder in the deaths of son Anthony, 4, and daughter Alayna, 3. The judge said it was "horrendous" and "heinous."
Hinojosa, 31, turned to the courtroom gallery, apologized and said she loved her kids.
"You think you're mourning? I'm mourning, too," she said.
The remarks angered relatives of the victims who moments earlier told the judge about the impact on their lives. Alayna's grandmother, Denise Jones, said it was "cowardly" for Hinojosa to "disregard these children like a bag of garbage."
She said she hopes Hinojosa in prison hears her children asking, "What did we do to you?" to deserve an awful death.
Hinojosa's attorney, Bryan Sherer, declined to comment.Lawyer Ira Harris, reading a statement on behalf of Anthony's grandparents, said the boy often talked about being old enough to ride a bus to school.
"Even wild animals would go to great lengths to protect their young," Harris said.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

FILICIDE: Document with references

The United States has one of the highest rates of filicide with an estimated two-hundred
and fifty to three hundred children murdered by their parents each year.
belief perpetuated by media coverage, fathers kill their children nearly as often as mothers.
1 Contrary to popular2
While fathers tend to be more violent, both mothers and fathers commit filicide by using highly
physical acts, such as beating, drowning, poisoning, shaking, stabbing, or suffocating their
“certain ‘craziness’ in both genders—they betray an intense passion and a lack of planning.”
3 Regardless of how a parent ultimately engages in filicide,4 their methods reveal a5
Despite the similarity between genders, society shows more outrage and disdain towards
mothers who commit filicide, often brushing aside the fathers who commit the same heinous
which define women’s roles as “passive, ‘saintly stoics who never succum[b] to fury, frustration,
or greed.”
to reconcile this discrepancy, the media portrays maternal filicide as a “freak occurrence” and
explains away the mother’s actions by her classifying as “mad” (mentally ill) or “bad”
6 This gendered reaction is fueled by traditional notions of motherhood and femininity,7 Filicidal mothers, however, are antithetical to these traditional notions. In an attempt8
Historically, society has responded to mothers who kill their children in one of three
ways – denial,
adopted a hybrid approach of punishment and denial.
9 punishment,10 or prevention.11 Meyer and Oberman note the United States has12 First, society “studiously ignore[s]” both
1; Susan Donaldson James,
Electra Draper, Parents Who Kill Their Kids Not Always Insane, Experts Say, DENVER POST, May 27, 2011,Mommy Murderers: Often Altruistic or, ABC NEWS, Apr. 13, 2011,
dispose of their children’s bodies hundreds of miles away from the home, mothers dispose of their children’s
corpses in or near the home and do so in a "womblike" fashion by swaddling, submerging in water, or wrapping the
body in plastic.
Draper, supra note 1.Dahlia Lithwick, When Parents Kill, SLATE, March 12, 2002, also shows mothers and fathers differ in the way they dispose of their children’s corpses. While fathersId.
See Elizabeth Rapaport, Mad Women and Desperate Girls: Infanticide and Child Murder in Law and Myth, 33ORDHAM URB. L. J. 527, 529 (2006).
Disorder in Cases of Maternal Infanticide and Filicide
Heather Leigh Stangle, Murderous Madonna: Femininity, Violence, and the Myth of Postpartum Mental, 50 WILLIAM & MARY L. REV. 699; 706 (2008); HILARY
59 (2005).
efficient way of dealing with women who were unable to cope with the stress and struggles of motherhood.
Throughout history, denial has proven to be the most popular approach because ignoring filicide is the most costId. at
such, perpetrators deserve swift and severe punishment; however, juries and judges are often reluctant to adopt and
enforce this approach.
Societies that adopt the punishment approach believe filicide is no different from any other violent crime, and asId.
availability of social programs. Although this approach has proven to be successful, the extremely high cost may
make it impractical.
The prevention approach is aimed at developing policies to prevent filicide by increasing awareness and theId.
the frequency of infanticide and the underlying patterns prevalent in contemporary cases.
However, when a parent actually commits filicide, society seeks the harshest punishment.
Over time, as the facts of the case evolve, our collective anger subsides, and we are satisfied with
the “just punishment” handed out by the judge or jury hearing the case.
Gender stereotypes and traditional notions of motherhood also affect the legal system’s
responses to mothers who kill their children. Mothers are less likely to be prosecuted than
psychiatric treatment after the offense but before trial.
psychiatric pleas, while the majority of fathers plead involuntary manslaughter– a plea which
does not require an abnormal state of mind.
commit filicide suffer equally from psychological disorders.
women is also prevalent in sentencing. Mothers are more likely to be committed to a mental
facility, while fathers are more likely to be executed or sent to prison.
sentenced to prison tended to have shorter sentences than fathers.
16 and more likely to be released on bail.17 They are also more likely to be offered18 Likewise, a majority of mothers utilized19 Yet, studies indicate mothers and fathers who20 The more lenient treatment of21 The mothers who were22
In support of differential treatment for men and women, some countries have passed
Infanticide Acts.
avoidance of the death penalty when a mother commits filicide.
similar protections to fathers who commit filicide. Modern debate on Infanticide Acts centers
around whether postpartum mental illness is sufficiently different from other mental illness
suffered by men and nonpregnant women (e.g., affective psychosis, schizophrenia), such that
postpartum mental illness deserves special treatment within the legal system. The United States
legal system has been hesitant to adopt such a legal view, and mothers are required to assert a
defense of postpartum mental illness within the framework of traditional defenses.
To negate the intent based on insanity, involuntary act, or diminished capacity. Although there is a gender
23 Such acts provide for the lower charge of manslaughter as well as the24 However, no act providesFramework of Defensesmens rea of homicide, men and women alike must prove lack of criminalId.Only forty-six percent of mothers were prosecuted, while ninety percent of fathers were prosecuted. Orthwein, et.Filicide: Gender Bias in California Defense Attorneys’ Perception of Motive and Defense Strategies, 17SYCHIATRY, PSYCHOL. & L. 523, 527 (2010).
Fifty percent of mothers were granted bail, while no fathers were granted bail. Id.
Fifty-four percent of mothers were offered psychiatric treatment compared to thirty percent of fathers. Id.
children within one year of birth are temporarily deprived of self-control by mental illness induced by childbirth.
Critics argue the Infanticide Act is based on the inaccurate assumption that all mothers who kill their young children
suffer from mental illness. In reality, empirical research indicates few filicidal mothers suffer from postpartum
mental illness. Furthermore, the gender-specific approach ignores that filicidal fathers are just as likely as mothers
to suffer from mental illness. Abigail Wong,
10 M (last visited Oct. 30, 2011).
The British Infanticide Act formalizes the view of filicidal mothers as “mad.” It presumes mothers who kill theirFilicide and Mothers Who Suffer From Postpartum Mental Disorders,ICH. ST. J. MED. & L. 570, 587 (2006). For full text of the British Infanticide Act, see Infanticide Act 1938,
1098, 1108 (2000).
Velma Dobson & Bruce D. Sales, The Science of Infanticide and Mental Illness, 6 PSYCHOL., PUB. POLY & L.
disparity between the number of mothers and the number of fathers utilizing the insanity defense,
the two insanity defense standards—the
are gender-neutral on their face. Under
from a mental disease or defect at the time of the killing and as a result (1) did not know the
nature of the act being committed or (2) did not know the act was wrong.
focuses on cognition, and critics of the
whether the accused knew right from wrong during the commission of the crime.
M’Naghten test and the Model Penal Code (MPC) test–M’Naghten, the accused must show he or she suffered25 This approachM’Naghten approach argue it is too difficult to determine26
The MPC takes a similar but slightly different approach. Rather than focusing solely on
the cognitive aspects of the accused’s behavior, the MPC also incorporates volitional aspects of
the time of the killing and as a result lacked the substantial capacity to (1) appreciate the
criminality or wrongfulness of the act or (2) conform his or her conduct to the requirements of
the law.
recognizes mental illness may affect the mind in numerous ways.
defendants may understand the criminality of the act but still be found insane because of an
inability to control their actions.
27 The accused must demonstrate he or she suffered from a mental disease or defect at28 This approach is thought to be more flexible than the M’Naghten Test because it29 Under the MPC test,30
In addition to the insanity defense, defendants may also assert an Involuntary Act
Defense. Under an Involuntary Act Defense, defendants must demonstrate (1) they suffered
from a mental or physical disability, and (2) their conduct was not the product of their deliberate
a level that the accused no longer had control of his or her body or actions.
31 The critical aspect of this defense is proving the severity of the disability arises to such32
Finally, the accused may assert a Diminished Capacity Defense. Under this defense,
defendants must prove their mental illness made it impossible for them to possess the intent
required under the criminal statute.
is mitigated to a lesser offense.
culpability of the accused is eliminated, and the conviction is prevented.
33 If the defense is successful, the culpability of the accused34 In the rare instance where there is no lesser offense, the35
Fitting Postpartum Mental Disorders into the Framework of Defenses
Theoretically, postpartum mental illness easily fits into the existing paradigm of defenses.
However, in practice the use of postpartum mental illness as a defense against filicide is not so
clear cut.
defense to be supported with a “recognized” disorder.
however, has yet to recognize postpartum mental illness as a codeable mental disorder.
36 All three defenses – insanity, involuntary act, and diminished capacity – require the37 The American Psychiatric Association,38 Thus,
Judith Macfarlane, Criminal Defense in Cases of Infanticide & Neonaticide, in INFANTICIDE: PSYCHOSOCIAL AND
EGAL PERSPECTIVES ON MOTHERS WHO KILL 133, 145 (Margaret G. Spinelli, ed. 2003).
Wong, supra note 26 at 584.For example, the involuntary act defense would be used when an individual commits murder while sleepwalking.supra note 28.
postpartum mental illness alone is not sufficient to trigger any of the traditional defenses.39
Macfarlane notes these women must rely on other disorders, which may not provide a full and
complete picture of their mental state at the commission of the crime.
are rarely successful.
40 In general, such defenses41
Alternative Approaches
If the traditional framework of defenses does not seem like a viable option, filicidal
parents may still have other choices available to them. For example, some states may allow the
accused to prove Extreme Mental and Emotional Disturbance (EMED). Under this doctrine, the
fact finder takes an objective-subjective view of the actor’s circumstances as the actor believed
them to be.
an immediate passionate and violent reaction, then the charges will be reduced from murder to
arguably acting with EMED, even if they understand the illegality or wrongfulness of their act at
the time.
Alternatively, mothers may choose to utilize the Good Mother Defense. The Good
Mother Defense is not a recognized defense, but rather a strategy articulated by Elizabeth
Rapaport, a University of New Mexico law professor. This approach preys on the tendency of
jurors to find “madness” as the most plausible and least upsetting explanation for a virtuous
mother’s behavior.
“mad” even if she doesn’t meet the rigid insanity defense standards, and the jury will in turn
mitigate the punishment as a result of the perceived madness.
filicidal mother’s fate rests more on the defense’s ability to prove she was a good mother, rather
than the prosecution’s ability to prove the elements of the alleged crime.
Social judgments of mothers who kill their children are often paradoxical. While juries
and the general public rarely give credence to a mother’s insanity defense, mothers who commit
filicide often receive less harsh sentences then fathers who commit filicide. Some commentators
attribute this phenomenon to society’s anxiety about female sexuality and motherhood.
42 If the accused can show he or she was provoked by external stimuli that prompted43 Thus, parents who are convinced they have been possessed by Satan are44 When confronted with a “good” mother, the jury will find the mother is45 Thus, Rapaport urges that a46
Filicidal mothers threaten traditional notions and values of motherhood and femininity, and
society’s stereo-type driven understanding of filicide fuels a media frenzy obsessed with whether
the mother is “mad” or “bad.” However, this excessive preoccupation with female deviance
shifts the focus of the discussion from protecting children to notions of motherhood. The
question of how society can best protect children who find themselves at risk of being harmed by
their own parent is strikingly absent from the discussion.
the defense).
in Ohio the insanity defense is only successful fifteen percent of the time due to the general public’s skepticism ofPhillip Resnick, The Andrea Yates Case: Insanity on Trial, 55 CLEV. ST. L. REV. 147, 153--54 (2007) (noting that
Wong, supra note 26, at 584.
Rapaport, supra note 6, at 559.>Id. at 530.

“Mad” or “Bad”: Judging Mothers Who Kill Their Children

FILICIDE: Missouri: Shelby Dasher charged

, November 16, 2011  
The first reports about Tyler Dasher on Tuesday were that he was reported missing from his crib by his distraught mother, Shelby Dasher.
Hours after 13-month old Tyler was reported missing, his body was found near a cemetery a mile from his house in Affton, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis.
Now the horrible truth is known.  Tyler was a victim of filicide, murder by a parent.  Shelby Dasher admitted to police on Wednesday that she beat her son to death and disposed of his body.
According to St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch, Shelby Dasher stated that Tyler "wouldn't lay down, wouldn't go to sleep" and that she beat him to death.
Shelby Dasher joins a score of infamous mothers and fathers who have murdered their own children.  For those who lovingly care for their children, this crime is unimaginable.
Yet every day 3-5 children are killed by a parent.  Homicide is one of the leading causes of death for children under age four.
Of the 49 women currently on death row, 11 killed children.  The killing of newborns is the most common case of mothers who murder their child.
Statistics show that the day a child is born is the day they are most likely to be killed.
Mothers who kill their child more often kill newborns and young children.  Fathers who kill their child are more likely to kill the entire family, an act called familicide.
Mothers who kill their infant child are more likely to share some similarities:
Higher than average rates of depression
  • Young mothers
  • Lack of parental experience
  • Stress from external sources
Some stresses the mothers face are poverty, unemployment, mental illness, and marital problems.  Mothers who kill older children frequently suffer from mental illness.
But many mothers, especially young mothers, suffer from these and other stresses without killing their children.  Why to parents kill children?
Generally, mothers or fathers who commit filicide fall into one of five categories:
  • Mother plans or tries to commit suicide and feels children will be better off going with her
  • Parent is acutely psychotic
  • Parent is getting rid of an unwanted baby, usually a newborn
  • Fatally beats their child to death
  • Kills to get revenge against a spouse
There are organizations nationwide to help parents deal with the stress of raising a child.  In Virginia, the organization Prevent Child Abuse Virginia is one such organization.
PCAV offers both direct services and education about positive parenting including the Healthy Families Virginia which focuses on many services to new parents.
There are many places Shelby Dasher could have turned for help: family, friends, and community organizations.  Sadly, her son paid the ultimate price.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

INFANTICIDE (multiple): Canada: Merdeith Borowiec charged second degree murder

dawn walton :  Nov. 22, 2011
Already charged with attempting to murder her newborn son by tossing him into a dumpster, a 30-year-old Calgary woman is now accused of killing two babies she gave birth to previously, although their bodies haven’t been found.
Meredith Katharine Borowiec, who has been in custody since she was charged last week with a number of offences related to the abandoned infant, appeared briefly in provincial court Tuesday morning to answer to two new charges of second-degree murder.
Police allege that Ms. Borowiec gave birth at home to a boy on Oct. 19, 2010, and threw him in a garbage bin outside her northwest apartment. Passersby, including the infant’s father, who didn’t know his girlfriend was pregnant, rescued the crying child, who didn’t suffer any negative consequences from his ordeal.
The baby is not in the custody of his father and has been placed in a “healthy home,” said Staff Sergeant Kelly Campbell of Calgary’s child abuse unit. She called the year-long investigation that has led to the new charges “very stressful” and “very complex.”
“Any time you have a case such as this, it is shocking,” she said. “This doesn’t happen every day.”
But increasingly, experts say, when women have been accused of killing their babies, they have been charged with the more serious offence of murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence, and not infanticide, which takes into account mental disturbances as a result of childbirth and has a five-year sentence.
Isabel Grant, a law professor at the University of British Columbia, said applying the infanticide charge doesn’t devalue the life of the newborn, but it is appropriate in some cases.
“I find it shocking that the Crown takes the heaviest hand of the law when there can be other options,” Prof. Grant said.
Paul Brunnen, Ms. Borowiec’s lawyer, said he hopes to receive disclosure from the Crown by his client’s Nov. 29 court date. He said he is puzzled by the charges of murder when infanticide is available. “I’d like to know why that is too,” he said.
Staff Sgt. Campbell would only say that the charges were deemed appropriate by the Crown.
Earlier this year, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled in the case of a mother who killed her two infants during bouts of postpartum depression, that when there is evidence of infanticide, the Crown cannot obtain a murder conviction. The Alberta Court of Appeal has also weighed in on the issue, overturning a murder conviction of a 19-year-old woman who gave birth secretly, strangled the infant and threw the body into a neighbouring yard. The court replaced the charge with infanticide.
So far, about 20 people have been interviewed in the Borowiec case. Investigators provided few details about how and when the babies died, but police allege that Ms. Borowiec gave birth in 2008 and then again in 2009 and that the babies died shortly after they were born. They said it is unlikely the bodies will ever be found.
According to a police application for a search warrant obtained by a local newspaper, Ms. Borowiec told police she miscarried in 2009 and then, in 2010, gave birth in her bathroom not realizing she was pregnant. She said she wrapped the baby in a towel, put it in a garbage bag and took it outside.
“Meredith thought the baby may be dead as she did not hear any crying nor [notice] movement, however according to Meredith, she did not check to see if he was alive nor try to assist the baby,” the document said.
She also told police, according to court documents, that she was “scared” and that she was “not fit to be a parent.”
While rare, cases of women killing multiple children are not unheard of.
In 2010, police in Calgary concluded that 27-year-old Harsimrat Kahlon died from complications after a secret home birth in October, 2009. The investigation revealed that since 2005, Ms. Kahlon had killed three babies and hid their bodies in containers, which were found squirrelled away in her basement apartment. Medical experts could not determine how the babies died.
Last August, also in Calgary, Stacey Joy Bourdeaux, 34, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2004 smothering death of her 10-month-old son, as well as attempted murder and failing to provide the necessities of life to her five-year-old son, who suffered serious brain damage as a result of smothering. But the baby’s death only came to light when the older boy was admitted to hospital last year.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

FILICIDE: Iowa: Michelle Kehoe appeal rejected

Josh O'Leary : July 13 2011

The Iowa Court of Appeals has upheld the 2009 conviction of Michelle Kehoe, the Coralville mother who was sentenced to life in prison after murdering her 2-year-old son and attempting to kill her then 7-year-old son.
In a ruling filed Wednesday, the appeals court struck down Kehoe's contention that her legal counsel, Waterloo-based public defenders Andrea Dryer and David Stout, was ineffective.
Jurors needed just two hours of deliberation at the end of a week-long trial in November 2009 to level guilty verdicts against Kehoe, now 38, for first-degree murder, attempted murder and child endangerment causing serious injury.
Kehoe had argued in her appeal that her counsel failed to challenge the constitutionality of Iowa's laws defining the insanity defense.
She said her counsel also was ineffective because it failed to request jury instruction on the consequences of a not guilty verdict by reason of insanity, and for failing to object to an element of the jury instruction on the attempted murder charge.
In the trial, Kehoe's defense did not contest Kehoe's actions against the children but had argued that her mental state at the time of the attacks prevented her from being held accountable. The jury ultimately rejected her insanity defense, and in addition to the life sentence for murder, gave her 25 years for attempted murder and 10 years for endangerment.
The appeals court, citing a U.S. Supreme Court decision and other cases, ruled that Kehoe's due process rights were not violated by Iowa law, nor was there any violation of state and federal cruel or unusual punishment clauses. The court also found that Kehoe's counsel had no duty to object to jury instruction.
Therefore, Kehoe's trial counsel was not ineffective for failing to challenge the constitutionality of Iowa's laws, nor was it at fault for not contesting aspects of jury instruction.
According to authorities, Kehoe took 2-year-old Seth and her other son, Sean, who was 7 at the time, to a remote area near Littleton in northeast Iowa in October 2008. Police and prosecutors said Kehoe placed duct tape over her sons' eyes, mouths and hands and cut their throats with a hunting knife she had bought a month earlier. She then cut her own throat. Seth died as a result of his injuries, but Sean survived.
Police said Kehoe wrote a note to make it appear as though they were abducted by a fictitious assailant, and she made similar claims to investigators before allegedly admitting to the crime.
A call left for Mark Smith, the state appellate defender representing Kehoe, was not returned Wednesday, nor was a message left at the public defender's office in Waterloo.

INFANTICIDE (?): Virginia: Karen Murphy left her baby in a hot car

July 12, 2011
Virginia resident Karen Murphy's son died after being left in the family's car for seven hours.
She is being charged with felony murder and child neglect after she allegedly left her baby in her van for hours by accident. In this week's "Moms" segment, host Michel Martin discusses this case with regulars Dani Tucker and Jolene Ivey, as well as former Md. State Attorney Glenn Ivey and journalist Gene Weingarten.

NEONATICIDE (multiple): Pennsylvania: Michele Kalina to stand trial

READING, Pa. (AP) — A woman charged with killing five newborns conceived through extramarital affairs has been found mentally competent and is scheduled for a plea and sentencing hearing next month.
A Berks County judge declared Michele Kalina competent to stand trial Wednesday after reviewing independent psychiatric testing. A public defender had raised mental-health issues at a hearing last month, but withdrew her motion based on the new tests.
(AP Photo/Berks County Sheriff's Department via Reading Eagle, File)
Kalina, 45, of Reading, is now set to plead to unknown charges on Aug. 4, and be sentenced immediately afterward. A gag order prevents lawyers from discussing the case.

The home-health aide is charged with one count each of criminal homicide and aggravated assault, and multiple counts of abuse of a corpse and concealing the death of a child.
DNA tests show she conceived most, if not all, of the babies through a long affair with a co-worker. Neither he nor Kalina's husband knew about the pregnancies.
Kalina moved the remains with her and kept them in a locked closet until her teen daughter found them in the family's high-rise apartment last year and called police, authorities say.
One set of bones was entombed in cement and the others in a cooler, a plastic tub and a cardboard box.
Kalina had no prenatal care during the five pregnancies, and it's not clear where she gave birth, authorities have said.
She also had a sixth secret pregnancy that culminated with the 2003 birth in a Reading hospital of a baby girl that she gave up for adoption. That child was also conceived with the boyfriend, DNA tests show.
A prosecutor described him last year as "overwhelmed and shocked" by news of the pregnancies.
Kalina had borne two children with her husband Jeffrey, in 1987 and 1991. The oldest, a boy, had cerebral palsy and died of natural causes in 2000.
Women who kill newborns are usually young, first-time mothers who are afraid to reveal their pregnancies, experts say. They are rarely found to be mentally ill, according to Geoffrey R. McKee, a forensic psychologist at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine who wrote the book, "Why Mothers Kill."
Kalina, like many of them, appears to have been socially isolated. A native of Rockland County, N.Y., she had no extended family nearby, and seemingly no close women friends.
Her secrets went undiscovered for years, and were only unearthed by her daughter's curiosity. Kalina had told her family not to look in the locked closet.
Neither the daughter nor her husband came to court to see her Wednesday.

FILICIDE (and suicide): Louisiana: death of Nadia Braxton and her 3 children

July 12, 2011
The home in Kenner, La., where a 29-year-old mother of three was found shot to death, lying atop the dead bodies of her children. The home in Kenner, La., where a 29-year-old mother of three was found shot to death, lying atop the dead bodies of her children. (WWL-TV)
(CBS News)  A woman from Kenner, La., a suburb near New Orleans, was found dead inside her home by her husband Tuesday, lying atop the bodies of her three children, all of whom had died from apparent gunshot wounds, reports CBS affiliate WWL-TV.

The husband told police he had just come home from work when he discovered the bodies. No charges have been filed. Police have not ruled out the possibility that it was a murder-suicide.

The victims in the shooting were identified as: Nadia Braxton, 29; Kayla Peters, 12; a 1-year-old child, Nayah Peters and a 6-month-old, Nyla Peters, WWL reports.

Kenner Police Chief Steve Caraway said the when the husband got home and "didn't hear anything, he eventually walked upstairs and found them, all of the kids, lying in the bed."

The mother suffered a gunshot wound to her forehead, Caraway said. The 1-year-old and the 6-month-old also both suffered gunshot wounds to the forehead. The Kenner Police Department hasn't released information about how the 12-year-old was killed.

The woman was struggling to pay the mortgage on her home, which she bought just before Hurricane Katrina, The Times-Picayune reports.

The property was first seized by the Sheriff's Office in January of 2010 for failure to make mortgage payments, The Times-Picayune reports. Braxton's case was dismissed a few months later when she brought her payments up to date, only to have the Sheriff's Office seize the property again for non-payments in December of last year.

FILICIDE (Multiple): Fiona Donnison trial

Fiona Donnison murdered her two children to take revenge from her estranged husband. Donnison reportedly suffocated her children Harry, (three) and Elise (two) because she thought her husband was cheating on her. Donnison reportedly suffocated her children Harry, (three) and Elise (two) because she suspected her husband Paul of an affair with an old schoolfriend. She then armed herself with two kitchen knives in an attempt to kill her husband Paul and blame him for the death of their children, it was alleged. She then handed herself in to police saying she had killed her children, reported Daily Mail.
Donnison appeared in court today for the opening of her trial for the alleged murder. The jury was told that the city banker was a controlling narcissist who wanted to make Mr Donnison’s life ‘as miserable as possible’ to the extent that she ‘used her children as the ultimate and final weapon’.
Fiona Donnison, kidsThe couple had separated five months earlier when Fiona had abruptly left the family home, taking the children with her. Despite Mr Donnison attempting a reconciliation, he finally said he could take no more of her ‘controlling’ behaviour and ended the relationship in January last year, reported the daily.
"The two children’s bodies were found in the boot of Donnison’s Nissan car on the morning of 27 January last year, dressed in their pyjamas and zipped into separate sports bags. They had most likely been suffocated with pillows at Donnison’s rented house in Lightwater," the evening before, said Christine Laing QC, prosecuting.
The Donnisons had met in 1999 when both were married to others. They had a daughter, Mia, who died a year later of suspected cot death. The couple had had a strained relationship due to Fiona's teenage sons from her previous marriage.
"Paul Donnison described her as always wanting bigger and better things than they could afford," Christine Laing QC told the daily.
"She claims to have no memory at all of the events that led to the killing of Harry and Elise. We say that responsibility lies not as a result of any mental illness but we say as a result of her personality," Laing concluded. In an apparent volte-face, Donnison denies the two counts of murder.
The case continues.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

FILICIDE(attempted): AUSTRALIA: Bail granted in children crash case

July 07, 2011
An Adelaide mother accused of trying to kill her three children in a car crash as part of a failed suicide attempt has been released on home detention bail.
The 32-year-old woman is charged with three counts of attempted murder.
Police allege she deliberately drove her car into a tree on Nelson Road at Ingle Farm in April with her three children in the passenger seats.
They suffered minor injuries and were later discharged from hospital.
The woman was granted bail to live in a rehabilitation facility in May but was taken back into custody two-and-a-half weeks later.
The Holden Hill Magistrates Court has now granted her home detention bail to live with her father.
She is prohibited from contacting her children

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

FILICIDE (multiple): England: Fionna Donnison killed her children after relationship with father broke down

A former City financier suffocated her two children and placed their bodies in the boot of her car to get back at their father for "rejecting her", a court has heard.

 Elise and Harry Donnison
The bodies of Elise, 2, and Harry Donnison,, were left in the boot of a car Photo: PA
Fiona Donnison, 45, who was described as self-obsessed and controlling, carried out the murders after becoming furious at her former partner for getting close to another woman, it was said.
After killing her children she returned to the family home armed with two kitchen knives, intent on killing her husband. The jury heard that she murdered her children as the "ultimate and final weapon" to get back at him.
Christine Laing QC, prosecutor, said it was the Crown's case that Donnison killed three-year-old Harry and two-year-old Elise Donnison in order to hurt their father in the most extreme way possible.
She said that the defendant suffered from narcissism, having a belief in her attractiveness, abilities and entitlement so strong that she could not stand rejection.
"She is somebody who lacks empathy for others, has an inability to feel for them, including her own children," said Miss Laing.
After her relationship with the children's father broke down, and he appeared to be starting a relationship with an old school friend, Donnison focused on making his life as miserable as possible, it was said.
"When that behaviour failed to have the desired effect, so desperate was she to get back at him that she used the children as the final and ultimate weapon," Miss Laing said.
The court heard that the defendant, already a mother of two, met Paul Donnison in 1999 when both were married to other people.
They never married but the defendant changed her name by deed poll and they had two children together.
But their relationship was strained and exacerbated by issues concerning her two teenage sons who lived with them and the thousands of pounds worth of debt she was prone to accumulating.
She also lost her job in 2009.
It became so bad that the defendant moved out of the family home in Heathfield, East Sussex, without telling Paul Donnison where she had gone, jurors at Lewes Crown Court were told. She moved with the four children to a rented home yet remained jealous and controlling of her partner, and often exhibited highly manipulative behaviour, the court heard.
She remained convinced that her husband was seeing someone behind her back.
He later found out she had moved into a house in Lightwater, Surrey, 100 yards from where his first wife lived with their two children, despite having no connections to the area.
Miss Laing said the couple later reconciled and made plans to move in together again but Donnison remained jealous of a woman he had struck up a platonic relationship with after she had left.
Donnison would often refused to let him in the house and once even threw all of his possessions out on to the driveway.
She said the two children, "described by everyone who knew them as delightful, well-mannered, affectionate children", were last seen alive on the afternoon of January 26 last year and it is believed they were likely to have been killed sometime that evening.
Donnison denies two charges of murder.
Miss Laing said: "They had been suffocated, most probably by having a pillow or some other form of bedding placed over their faces."
Miss Laing said Donnison had killed the children at her rented house in Lightwater and then driven to Heathfield, parked the car, and gone into Meadowside armed with two kitchen knives.
"We suggest the purpose of her doing so was that having informed Paul Donnison of the deaths of the children the defendant also intended to kill him and no doubt blame him for killing the children," she said.
However she added that Mr Donnison was not at the house and did not return that night or the next morning.
She said both were in the pyjamas when they were found by police officers in the boot of Donnison's Nissan car which was parked in Mill Close, Heathfield, around the corner from their former family home named Meadowside.
At around 10.45am on January 27, the defendant went to Heathfield police station and told officers she had killed her children.
She would not tell them where they were but a search of the area soon located them to the boot of the car.
Dressed all in black and with her arm in a black sling, Donnison sat in the dock with her head bowed as Miss Laing outlined the case.
The barrister said Donnison will claim she was suffering from depression and was not in her right mind at the time of the killings, and that the charges should be reduced to manslaughter.
Miss Laing said: "This is understandably a complex case particularly in relation to the motive.
"We say that responsibility lies not as a result of any mental illness but we say as a result of her personality."
"Why any of this resulted in the defendant killing the children, she had not said.
"She claims to have no memory at all of the events that led to the killing of Harry and Elise."
The trial continues.