WINNIPEG—A jury has found a Manitoba father guilty of manslaughter in the death of his 21-month-old daughter after hearing how he took no action to keep the toddler safe from her abusive mother.
A jury in Winnipeg deliberated for about three hours before delivering its verdict Monday evening for Daniel Williams in the 2014 death of Kierra Elektra Starr Williams on the Peguis First Nation.
Kierra was seized at birth by child welfare workers but was returned to the family in the summer of 2013.
During the trial, court heard from other family members who said the toddler’s mother hit, kicked, and dragged the child, as well as locked her in a room.
Kierra died on July 17, 2014, of blunt force trauma to the abdomen and internal blood loss, court heard.
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At the time of her death, Kierra’s body showed signs of months of abuse including a dislocated shoulder, broken bones and missing teeth. She was also severely malnourished and covered in bruises.
Her mother, Vanessa Bushie, received a life sentence with no chance of parole for 14 years for second-degree murder last year.
Crown prosecutors said that Williams may not have abused the toddler, but his inaction contributed to her death.
“Kierra never stood a chance,” Crown prosecutor Daniel Chaput said in closing arguments earlier Monday.
Defence attorney Greg Brodsky told the jury that Williams didn’t intervene earlier because he didn’t know about the injuries and he didn’t want his other children apprehended by Child and Family Services.
He said Williams could never have foreseen the killing.
“It wasn’t anything that Daniel did,” Brodsky said.
But Chaput said Williams should be judged on what he didn’t do. He said there was no way Williams didn’t know what was happening — he chose to do nothing about it. The toddler was “sacrificed,” Chaput said, because of the father’s fears over losing his other children.
Williams could have stopped it, Chaput said, but “he made a choice to do nothing when he knew that something needed to be done.”
Instead of bringing her to a hospital or asking for help, the Crown argued Williams hid Kierra away in their trailer on the First Nation and “made a decision not to protect her.”
Doctors had testified that Kierra was more vulnerable to blood loss because of her injuries and anemia caused by malnutrition.
The jury was instructed by Justice Sadie Bond they could find Williams not guilty, guilty of the lesser charge of failing to provide the necessaries of life or guilty of manslaughter.
Williams will be sentenced at a later date.