'I'm so sorry:' Father of toddler found dead outside Edmonton church sentenced

Joey Crier is seen in this police handout photo provided as evidence by the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta. A sentencing hearing is being held today for a man who was convicted of manslaughter in the death of his young son. Joey Crier and his then-girlfriend, Tasha-Lee Doreen Mack, were each charged with second-degree murder in the death of 19-month old Anthony Joseph Raine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta *MANDATORY CREDIT*

EDMONTON - A man who was convicted of manslaughter in his young son's death was sentenced Tuesday to 9 1/2 years in prison after apologizing to the rest of the boy's family.

Joey Crier and his then-girlfriend, Tasha-Lee Doreen Mack, were each charged with second-degree murder in the death of 19-month-old Anthony Joseph Raine. The toddler's lifeless body was found outside Edmonton's Good Shepherd Anglican Church in 2017.

Crier and Mack were each found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter in separate trials.

Crier, 29, appeared by video Tuesday in Court of Queen's Bench for his sentencing hearing.

"I'm truly and deeply sorry that this tragedy has even happened in the first place," Crier wrote in a statement entered into the court record before he was sentenced. "I'm so sorry."

Court also heard victim impact statements from Anthony's mother, uncle and a court worker.

"I trusted this guy with my son," Dalyce Raine said in her statement that was read by a friend. "I didn't want to believe it that my son was gone. Nobody knows how much I miss him."

She said Crier doesn't know how much he took from her.

"He had no right to do that," said Raine. "I just want to know why. Why couldn't he just give him back to me instead of putting him through the pain and hurt?"

Crier said in his statement that he let ugliness into his life and that he failed as a father.

"I failed and I've cried every night for the last 39 months," he wrote. "One can only apologize so many times before it loses its meaning.

"But I'll be saying and will be sorry for the rest of my life to every one of you."

Video entered into evidence showed Crier and Mack pushing a stroller around the church three days before Anthony's body was found propped up against an outer wall of the building.

A passerby noticed the boy and ran into the church distraught and crying. Women in the church who then ran outside to help testified about finding Anthony covered in a blue patchwork quilt. They weren't able to find a pulse.

The women saw bruising on his face and saw blood coming out of his ear.

Following an extensive investigation, police arrested Crier and Mack. Court heard they had used methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana in the weeks before the child died.

Medical experts testified Anthony's cause of death was related to head trauma.

The Crown and the defence jointly submitted that Crier should spend 9 1/2 years in prison, with credit for time served, and extra credit for time in protective custody.

Justice David Labrenz said he agreed with the recommendation.

"Anthony was Mr. Crier's son, and Mr. Crier was obligated to protect his son — not harm him," the judge said as he read his decision. "Mr. Crier did nothing to protect Anthony from further harm."

Labrenz said he accepted the findings of a Gladue report, which takes into account the circumstances of Indigenous offenders. It showed Crier had a difficult childhood and turned to substance abuse at a young age.

"I have no doubt that the use of crystal methamphetamine contributed to the assault and offences themselves," Labrenz said. "It manifested itself in Mr. Crier's apparent lack of caring or empathy for Anthony.

"This does not excuse Mr. Crier's own conduct."

Crier's overall sentence was reduced by 6 1/2 years, because he has been assaulted in jail and has spent much of his time there segregated in protective custody. It means three years remain on Crier's sentence.

"Mr. Crier, I know you are going to have some time to think about what you've done," the judge said at the end of the hearing. "I hope that you use this opportunity to better yourself.

"You will be aware that many in the community are justifiably shocked by what you did."

Mack was previously sentenced to 8 1/2 years in prison for her role in the child's death.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 18, 2020


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