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The Canadian Press

"Quebec woman who killed child out of jealousy gets near-maximum 14 years"

Canadian Press, Monday, March 18, 2002

QUEBEC (CP) -- A young woman who killed her baby stepdaughter by leaving the toddler to die of hypothermia under a cold shower will have to stay in jail until 2015 before she can seek parole.

Ginette Constant had previously been convicted of second-degree murder in the death of Francesca Amedee Daigle, 2, the daughter of her now estranged common-law husband.

She was jealous of the attention lavished on Francesca, feeling the girl's closeness with her father harmed the couple's relationship.

Superior Court Justice Gaston Desjardins turned down Constant's request on Monday for parole eligibility after the minimum 10 years, calling her crime "odious."

The 14-year sentence handed down by Desjardins includes one year for time already served. The Crown had sought a 15-year sentence before parole eligibility.

"This doesn't mean you will receive freedom then," Desjardins said in his sentencing verdict. "It means you will have the right to ask for it.

"It's a true shame that you committed this senseless act."

Defence lawyers said they would appeal the sentence, which came two weeks after a jury convicted Constant.

In 1999, Constant forced the baby to remain under cold running water, then shut off the washroom lights and closed the door.

The girl was left alone for 45 minutes, despite screaming and crying for help.

When the toddler was dead, Constant retrieved her body from the shower, dried the child's hair, placed clothes on her and -- telling friends the baby was seriously ill -- called for help.

A pathologist first determined the cause of death as bronchitis. The cause was later changed to mild hypothermia.

Constant, 25, was arrested last March after authorities re-examined the circumstances surrounding the toddler's death. She admitted on videotape she'd wanted to kill the girl.

After carrying an expressionless gaze throughout the trial, Constant showed no hint of emotion during the sentencing verdict.

The judge said he hoped Francesca's parents could forgive Constant someday.

However, the baby's birth mother promised she'll be ready to testify against Constant at her parole hearing.
"I'll be waiting for her in 14 years and I'll be there and I won't let her go free," Chimene Amedee, Francesca's birth mother, said with a quivering voice.

"I'll remember this in 14 years, I'll remember in 20 years, ad I'll remember in 25."

Amedee had tossed a box of tissue paper at Constant during the trial, telling the accused she should rot in jail.

Francesca's father said he was pleased with the verdict.

"I can live in peace and my little Francesca can also rest in peace," said Gaetan Daigle, now estranged from Constant.

"I'm happy with the 14 years (Constant) received -- it's better than 10 -- but I don't think she'll ever pay enough for the crime she committed."

Daigle said he also plans to testify against Constant at her parole hearing.

Copyright 2002, Canoe, a division of Netgraphe Inc. All rights reserved.