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Baby killer conviction provokes controversy

Believed to be first mother convicted of murder, rather than infanticide, in 61 years

Edmonton Journal, By Karen Kleiss, June 24, 2009

A murder conviction handed down to a young woman who killed her newborn has touched off a debate about Canada's controversial infanticide law and the place of juries in the legal system.

Katrina Effert, 23, was sentenced to life in prison with no chance at parole for at least 10 years Tuesday after a jury convicted her over the weekend of second-degree murder.

Katrina Effert baby murder case - Crown Prosecutors Photograph by: Candace Elliott, Edmonton Journal
Crown prosecutors John Laluk, left, and Robert Robbenhaar outside court on Tuesday. Laluk said Katrina Effert's repeated lies to police were the strongest evidence against the Wetaskiwin woman.

The Wetaskiwin woman is believed to be the first Canadian mother to be convicted of murdering her baby since 1948, when Parliament added infanticide to the Criminal Code.

Defence lawyer Peter Royal said he will immediately appeal the verdict. On Monday, Court of Queen's Bench Justice Joanne Veit rejected his bid for a mistrial, ruling that if the jury was wrong, the court of appeal will overturn the decision.

Neil Vidmar, a Duke University professor and a leading authority on juries, said Canadians still expect jurors to return verdicts that reflect their social values, and it is likely the jury in this case did just that.

He said studies dating back to the 1950s have repeatedly shown jurors understand even the most complex legal concepts and complicated evidence.

"Studies show the jury and the judge agree most of the time," he said. "And when they disagree, it's not because jurors don't understand the evidence or the law, it's because they apply a different set of values.

"That's not to say that every jury gets it right. Sometimes they get it wrong."

University of Winnipeg professor Kirsten Kramar, the author of Unwilling Mothers, Unwanted Babies: Infanticide in Canada, thinks the Effert jury got it wrong.

"She is absolutely being treated unfairly; there is no other woman who has been convicted of second-degree murder in this kind of infanticide case," Kramar said. "It is a travesty of justice and there is no doubt it will get overturned on appeal."

Kramar said governments and courts have long recognized that when young women kill unwanted babies after concealed pregnancies, there is some sort of social responsibility to be borne.

"Now we're seeing the development of punitive, retributive, eye-for-an-eye justice that really fails to understand the social conditions of mothering."

Kramar said Canadian prosecutors have in the past 15 years attempted almost a dozen murder prosecutions against women who kill their babies. Until Saturday, judges and juries refused to convict.

In court Tuesday, Effert did not look up when the judge handed down the mandatory minimum sentence for second-degree murder. She did not cry. She simply bowed her head, her face flushed red, as the judge tried to speak over the sound of broken sobs from Effert's mother.

As the young woman was led away, her father pressed his hands to the glass and pleaded with the sheriffs to let him speak to her. They shook their heads, no.

Wetaskiwin prosecutor Rob Robbenhaar said outside court that anyone who thinks the killing was infanticide has not taken a dispassionate look at the evidence.

"All the elements of second-degree murder were there," Robbenhaar said. "She killed this child when her mind was not suffering from disturbance."

Effort was 19 in the spring of 2005 when she secretly carried a baby to term and gave birth alone in her parents' basement. When the baby began to cry, she feared her parents would hear and wrapped her underwear around his neck five times. Then she wrapped his body in a towel and dropped him over the back fence into her neighbour's yard.

Days later, the neighbour found the body and police interviewed Effert several times. She told them she was a virgin. She later told them she'd given birth in her boyfriend's car, and handed the baby over to him. When she couldn't lie anyRead More ..she broke down and confessed.

Prosecutor John Laluk said the repeated lies were the Crown's strongest evidence against Effert.

Saturday's conviction was the second time a jury has convicted her of second-degree murder.

The case has renewed criticism of Canada's controversial infanticide law.

Grant Wilson, president of the Canadian Children's Rights Council, said the law should be repealed because it is outdated and violates children's rights.

"It is a licence for women to kill babies," he said.

The social stigma of unwed motherhood is long gone, he said, and society provides services and support for pregnant teens before and after birth. In addition, he said, women are no longer thought to be irrational creatures dependent on their husbands and families.

He said if the law is repealed, women who suffer from mental illness--such as postpartum depression or psychosis--will still be able to present a so-called insanity defence.

"This has to do with valuing a baby's life as much as that of an adult," he said.

© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal

Supporting Child Identity Rights

The Australian

Fathers demand mandatory paternity testing

A men's rights group has called for mandatory paternity testing of all babies after government figures revealed almost 600 instances of men compelled to financially support children they did not father.

Since changes to child support laws four years ago, there had been 586 cases of men successfully using DNA testing to show they were not biologically related to children they had been financially supporting, the federal government has revealed to The Australian.

Paternity Fraud Philippines

DNA paternity test confirms fraud, annulment granted: judge | Visayan Daily Star Newspaper | Phillipines

DNA test confirms fraud, annulment granted: judge

The Visayan Daily Star, Bacolod City, Philippines, BY CARLA GOMEZ, February 28, 2009

Bacolod Regional Trial Court Judge Ray Alan Drilon has annulled the marriage of a Negrense couple after a DNA test showed that the child borne by the wife was not the biological offspring of the husband who works abroad.

The family court judge ruled that the marriage of the couple, whose names are being withheld by the DAILY STAR on the request of the court, was null and void.

Due to fraud committed by the wife in getting her overseas worker husband to marry her, properties acquired during their marriage are awarded in favor of the husband, the judge said in his decision, a copy of which was furnished the DAILY STAR yesterday.

The judge also declared that since the overseas worker is not the biological, much less the legitimate father of the child of the woman, the Civil Registrar is ordered to change the surname of the child to the mother's maiden name and remove the name of the plaintiff as father of the child.

The complainant said he was working as an electronics engineer in the United Arab Emirates and on his return to the Philippines in 2001, his girlfriend of 10 years with whom he had sex, showed him a pregnancy test result showing that she was pregnant.

On receiving the news he was overjoyed and offered to marry her. Shortly after he went to Saudi Arabia to work, and his wife gave birth to a baby girl in the same year.

The birth of the child only five months after their marriage puzzled him but his wife told him that the baby was born prematurely, so he believed her, the husband said. Read More ..

Paternity Fraud
UK National Survey

Paternity fraud survey statistics

Scotland's National Newspaper

96% of women are liars, honest

5,000 women polled

Half the women said that if they became pregnant by another man but wanted to stay with their partner, they would lie about the baby's real father.

Forty-two per cent would lie about contraception in order to get pregnant, no matter the wishes of their partner.

Paternity Fraud - Spain Supreme Court - Civil Damages

Daily Mail UK

Adulterous woman ordered to pay husband £177,000 in 'moral damages'

The Daily Mail, UK
18th February 2009

An adulterous Spanish woman who conceived three children with her lover has been ordered to pay £177,000 in 'moral damages' to her husband.

The cuckolded man had believed that the three children were his until a DNA test eventually proved they were fathered by another man.

The husband, who along with the other man cannot be named for legal reasons to protect the children's identities, suspected his second wife may have been unfaithful in 2001.

Paternity Fraud - Civil Lawsuit
Unfaithful mother fined $120,170

Courier-Mail Newspaper

Unfaithful mother fined $120,170

From correspondents in Rio de Janeiro
Agence France-Presse

September 18, 2007

A BRAZILIAN woman has been ordered by the country's Supreme Court to pay a hefty fine to her husband for failing to mention that he was not the father of two of their children.

The Rio de Janeiro woman, whose identity was not disclosed, was ordered to pay her husband over $US100,000 ($120,170 Australian Dollars) for having hidden from him for almost two decades that the children in question were fathered by a lover, the court's offices said yesterday.

The husband also had sought damages from his wife's lover, the court said.

Fathering Magazine

A Woman's Right to be Criminal

December 5, 2002

I read a USA Today article on child support by Martin Kasindorf entitled, Men wage battle on 'paternity fraud'. Paternity fraud is when a woman names the wrong man as a father for the purpose of forcing him to pay child support. The words 'paternity fraud' were in quotes as if they referred to someone's questionable characterization rather than a straightforward fact. This might have moved me to let out a long sigh except that I knew it would not have been worth the trouble. I know from experience that 'paternity fraud' would not have been in quotes unless we were being prepared for some unadulterated bullshit.

BBC News logo

Who's the Daddy?

Up to three million Britons may be wrong about who their real father is , experts claim. But using DNA paternity tests to discover the truth can cause its own problems.

BBC, U.K., May 16, 2003

Dad's got blue eyes, Baby brown...

When Tessa found out she was pregnant after fertility treatment, she felt a mix of delight and doubt.

This wasn't simply pre-baby nerves - she suspected that her husband might not be the father. For Tessa had started sleeping with a colleague when the stress of the ongoing treatment became too much.

Keen to build a family with her husband, she let him believe the baby was his. But her lover threatened to reveal all if she ended the affair, and Tessa soon fell pregnant again. This time, her lover started to make nuisance calls to her home.

Tessa had no choice but to tell her husband. "I said to him, 'I've had an affair and you may not be the father of my children.' So with that, he went up the stairs, got dressed and left. And that was it," Tessa says in Women Who Live a Lie, a programme for the BBC's Five Live Report.

Sydney Morning Herald

Biology, not heart, provokes women's infidelity

Sydney Morning Herald, Australia
January 15, 2009

BEAUTIFUL women who have affairs can now blame it on their sex hormones.

Women with higher levels of oestradiol, a form of oestrogen, not only look and feel more attractive, they are also more likely to cheat on their partners, a new study has found.

One-night-stands are not what interest these flirtatious females, who tend to have bigger breasts, relatively small waists and symmetrical faces as a result of their high levels of oestradiol.

Rather, they adopt a strategy of serial monogamy, say the researchers, led by Kristina Durante of the University of Texas.

paternity fraud in Jamaica

Would you wear the jacket?

THERE IS A story I used to find hilarious in my high school years about a not too bright man. He was light skinned, his wife was of similar hue, but their first child was born with very dark complexion (darker dan Bello, blacker dan Blakka).

When the man wondered aloud about the baby's complexion his wife assured him that the child was born dark because the child was conceived in darkness (they had sex with the lights off). The man accepted the explanation. Because he loved his wife dearly, he also ignored the fact that the child had other obvious signs of resemblance to the young dark skinned man who did their gardening. To fix the problem, the husband put flood lights, strobe lights, spotlights and forty other lights in the bed room so there would be no more darkness to create dark babies.