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Decision reserved in trial of Winnipeg woman charged with hiding newborns

Closing arguments are to begin this morning in the trial of Andrea Giesbrecht, a Winnipeg woman charged with hiding the remains of six infants in a storage locker. Giesbrecht's lawyer Greg Brodsky speaks to media outside the Law Courts in Winnipeg after his client was granted bail in an April 24, 2015, file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Trevor Hagan
October 05, 2016 - 3:10 PM

WINNIPEG - A woman who placed the remains of six infants inside a storage locker was not hiding or disposing of them, but rather keeping them, her lawyer argued Wednesday.

Greg Brodsky said his client, Andrea Giesbrecht, is not guilty of the six counts she faces of concealing the body of a child.

"These products of conception were never meant to be concealed," Brodsky said during his closing arguments.

"To make sure they're kept in a storage locker ... is saving, not disposing. It's the opposite of disposing."

Giesbrecht, 42, was arrested in October 2014 after employees at a U-Haul storage facility in Winnipeg alerted police, who found the remains in garbage bags and other containers inside a locker Giesbrecht had rented.

The trial heard from Giesbrecht's friends and relatives, some of whom testified she hid her pregnancies by wearing baggy clothes.

Medical experts testified DNA linked the infants to Giesbrecht and her husband, were at or near full term and were probably born alive. But the remains were so decomposed it was impossible to determine a cause of death.

Giesbrecht was charged under Section 243 of the Criminal Code of Canada, which carries a jail term of up to two years for anyone who "disposes of the dead body of a child, with intent to conceal the fact that its mother has been delivered of it, whether the child died before, during or after birth."

Crown attorney Debbie Buors argued in her closing submission that Giesbrecht took great pains to hide her pregnancies and the remains.

Towels, blankets and other household items stored with the remains show that the infants were probably born at Giesbrecht's home before they were taken to the storage locker, Buors said.

Giesbrecht used detergent and cement in some of the containers "to mask the smell of these remains so that employees of U-Haul wouldn't become suspicious," Buors told court.

"Clearly she had control and possession of these human remains."

Giesbrecht and her husband, now living apart, have two children. Giesbrecht also had one miscarriage and 10 legal abortions between 1994 and 2011, according to medical records and witness testimony.

Brodsky, who did not call any evidence at the judge-only trial, did not elaborate on what Giesbrecht's motive might have been for saving the remains.

Provincial court Judge Murray Thompson reserved his decision. He is to render his verdict Feb. 6 in a proceeding that is to be live-streamed by media outlets.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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