Tasha Mack sat in the prisoner’s box and combed her hair before a judge entered the courtroom to hear closing arguments about whether she should be found guilty for the death of a toddler.
The 28-year old wore a pink kimono and bright yellow Pikachu hooded scarf as she listened to lawyers make final submissions in the second-degree murder case.
Mack and her former boyfriend, Joey Crier are charged in the April 2017 death of 19-month old Anthony Raine. Crier is the victim’s biological father and is facing a separate second-degree murder trial.
Anthony died of blunt force trauma to the head and his tiny body was covered in bruises when it was discovered behind a north Edmonton church three days after it had been placed there.
“What happened behind closed doors with the three of them present we can not know with certainty,” Crown prosecutor Monica Sabo told the judge in her closing argument. “He could not have been abused and injured without her knowledge.”
Mack and Crier had been caring for the boy for about six weeks before his death and witnesses testified about an escalating pattern of abuse. Doctors told the trial the final attack on Anthony could have happened 12 to 18 hours prior to his death, and that the repeated blows to the front, back and side of his head could have happened all at once or over a more prolonged period.
It’s the Crown’s theory that Crier delivered the fatal blows, but she argued Mack is equally guilty because she did nothing to intervene and failed to seek medical attention for the toddler after he was injured.
“Instead she acted to conceal what happened and stopped him from receiving care,” Sabo said.
The Crown admitted there’s no way to know if Anthony was still alive when he was placed outside the church and covered with a blanket. But she noted Mack continued to let others think the little boy was alive and well.
“She continued to act like everything was fine,” Sabo told Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Robert Graesser. “She chose to do nothing.”
Defence argues lack of evidence for guilty finding
Mack’s defence lawyer, Ajay Juneja, urged the judge to find his client not guilty.
“We don’t even know if she was there at the time the fatal blows were inflicted,” Juneja said.
“If you’re dealing with a beating that took less than a couple of minutes, I would suggest there’s no established evidence she could have intervened or would have had the opportunity to intervene.”
The lawyer also argued no decisive evidence proves medical intervention could have saved Anthony’s life and that helping to cover up a crime is not the same as being guilty of second-degree murder.
“The primary argument of the Crown is a failure to act,” Juneja said outside court. “In order for that to be culpable homicide, that failure to act has to result or cause the death of the child and in this case I don’t think that’s been established.”
Mack’s trial began in early June and has been repeatedly delayed along the way. Those delays have frustrated many, including those close to the victim’s family.
“There’s been so many delays,” said Luci Johnson, who attended Friday’s hearing along with Kari Thomason. “There’s a time and a place where the families need to find closure. Our community needs to find closure. We need to start healing.”
The judge hopes to deliver his decision November 29. Mack is free on bail.
The final arguments in Crier’s trial are expected to be heard December 6, with a judge’s decision scheduled for June 16. Crier is in custody.
Johnson looks forward to the conclusion of both trials as she thinks about the little boy who died.
“We’re never going to forget him,” Johnson said. “He’s one of our little warriors. And justice needs to be served.”