SASKATOON - A teenage girl who killed a six-week-old infant after his family took her in off the streets to help her will serve an adult sentence.
Judge Sanjeev Anand's decision in Saskatoon provincial court Tuesday was met with applause from the baby boy's family and supporters.
The teen, who is now 18, will serve life in prison with no parole eligibility for seven years.
The teen was 16 when she killed Nikosis Jace Cantre in July 2016. The baby's mother, Alyssa Bird, found her son in his playpen — bruised, bloody, swollen, scratched and gasping for air. Court heard Nikosis died of blunt force trauma to the head after the teen choked, punched, kicked and stabbed him with a metal nail.
"My hope is that you will take advantage of any and all supports that are offered to you while you're serving your time in custody," Anand told the teen.
He recommended she serve her sentence at Saskatoon’s Regional Psychiatric Centre.
The girl, whose identity has been protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. The publication ban on her name will remain during a 30-day appeal period.
Anand said the teen showed "moral sophistication" in the killing and agreed with the Crown that the teen's immaturity and impulsiveness was not age related.
"The consensus is that she will need lifelong care because she will not outgrow the impulsivity and immaturity associated with her (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder) diagnosis," the judge said.
The judge also addressed the baby's family. He said he understood their emotions, although applauding his decision may not have been appropriate.
"You have my deepest condolences and I hope that these proceedings will have some measure of closure."
Psychological reports indicated the teen had a history of violence that included squeezing the life out of a mouse at a pet store and nearly killing her 10-year-old cousin with morphine pills.
The girl was serving an open-custody sentence at the Kilburn Hall youth facility in July 2016 and had run off. She was roaming the streets in Saskatoon looking for a place to stay when she told a woman she had escaped from a group home.
An agreed statement of facts says the stranger gave her food, clothing and tried to take her to a youth centre, but it was closed.
The woman eventually took the teen to the home where Nikosis and his family lived. The girl had never met the family, but they agreed to let her stay.
The teen described to a police officer how she walked into the baby's room and held him "like a mom" before she became angry and began punching him.
"I was sick and tired of life," she said. "That' why I hurt that baby and I killed it."
Prosecutor Jennifer Claxton-Vickzo argued for an adult sentence at a December hearing. She said the teen was a threat to public safety and needed lifelong care and services, which aren't available with a youth sentence.
She also suggested the crime had a level of sophistication as evidenced by the teen attempting to hide blankets covered in blood.
Defence lawyer Brian Pfefferle argued the teen should receive a youth sentence because she was younger in "almost every other way" than her 16 years. He said her severe cognitive disabilities and fetal alcohol syndrome lowered her degree of moral blameworthiness.
The teen had no parental guidance, was adopted days after she was born and lived in a transient home with alcoholism and abuse, Pfefferle said.
He also noted she didn't exhibit any plans to kill the baby.
"This was an unsophisticated, brutal and senseless murder," he told the hearing. "She demonstrated devastatingly foolish behaviour."
The teen apologized to the family in December.
"I'm truly sorry for doing this," she said. "If this happened to my baby, I'd be really devastated."
The family didn't accept the apology.
"There's no 'sorry' for what you did," said Cantre’s grandfather, Jeffery Longman. "Sorry isn't going to bring him back."
(CTV Saskatoon, CKOM, The Canadian Press)