Demon-obsessed domestic tyrant drowned her stepdaughter, Biddersingh trial told

TORONTO -- An evil, demon-obsessed religious fanatic was the likely killer of her horrifically abused and starved teenaged stepdaughter whose body was found stuffed in a burning suitcase two decades ago, a first-degree murder trial heard Tuesday.

See Full Article

In closing arguments, defence lawyer Jennifer Penman urged jurors to acquit the teen's father of deliberately killing Melonie Biddersingh, 17, saying the evidence instead points to his wife as the culprit.

Everton Biddersingh, 60, has pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder of his daughter. His wife, Elaine Biddersingh, faces her own trial this spring.

Penman portrayed Elaine Biddersingh, who claimed to be the victim of spousal abuse, as an evil domestic tyrant and indifferent mother with a Bible and demon obsession who ruled the roost.

Court has heard that she hated her husband and stepdaughter, whom she believed was possessed by the devil and had brought a curse on the family.

"She has the most animus of anyone in the home toward Melonie," Penman said. "Elaine took matters into her own hands and drowned Melonie."

The trial previously heard the teen was confined for hours in a tiny closet in their Toronto apartment, had her head placed in a toilet that was flushed, was chained to the furniture, and denied food. Witnesses also testified her father kicked and punched her, and that her stepmother smashed her head against the wall in an effort to rid her of the devil.

Penman said it may never be known exactly how the teen died -- apparently on Sept. 1. 1994 -- but pointed to forensic evidence that she drowned, something she urged jurors to accept as fact. Her body also showed signs of severe malnourishment and 21 broken bones in various stages of healing.

"The tragedy of this young woman's death may easily overwhelm our imaginations," Penman said. "This case fundamentally is not about child abuse. It is about murder. This trial is about who drowned her."

While her weakened state and injuries might have been a factor in her death, that is not the same thing as saying starvation was the cause, the lawyer told the jury.

The Crown alleges Biddersingh killed his daughter by starving or drowning her, crammed her into a suitcase, drove her to a remote area north of Toronto and set her on fire. The Biddersinghs were arrested in March 2012 after a tip that finally allowed them to identify the victim's remains and lay charges.

The defence called no witnesses, so Penman's closing address was her opportunity to lay out an alternative to the Crown's view.

The lawyer told jurors it would be "dangerous" to convict her client on conflicting testimony from his wife and his son, Cleon Biddersingh, both of whom had reason to lie to protect themselves from criminal prosecution. Not even they alleged Everton Biddersingh drowned his daughter, Penman said.

Cleon Biddersingh, by his own admission, did nothing to protect his younger sister, Penman said. He also lied about what had happened to her the night she died because he had been complicit in the ongoing abuse, the lawyer said.

All charges against him -- related to the abuse of his sister and disposal of her body -- were stayed in January 2015, but he testified he believed he could still be charged with murder, court heard.

Superior Court Justice Al O'Marra told jurors he would charge them on Wednesday.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Muhammad Ali Jr. detained at Florida airport, asked, 'Are you Muslim?'

    World News CBC News
    The son of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali was detained by immigration officials at an airport in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., according to a lawyer and family friend. Chris Mancini tells the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., that the 44-year-old and his mother Khalilah Camacho-Ali, the second wife of Muhammad Ali, arrived at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Feb. Source
  • Broadway night out: Barack and Malia Obama check out The Price

    World News CBC News
    The Obamas just can't quit Broadway. Former U.S. president Barack Obama and his daughter Malia Obama have caught a new revival of Arthur Miller's The Price. They attended the play starring Danny DeVito, Mark Ruffalo, Jessica Hecht and Tony Shalhoub at the American Airlines Theatre on Friday. Source
  • Ice from plane tears through roof of Calgary home

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Falling ice tore through the roof of a Calgary home Friday night after falling from an aircraft, police reported. Calgary Police officer Andy Nguyen said emergency crews were called to a home in the 100 block of Doverthorn Bay S.E. Source
  • Iraqi forces facing stiff resistance in western Mosul

    World News CTV News
    SOUTH OF MOSUL, Iraq -- Iraqi forces pushed deeper into western Mosul Saturday amid stiff resistance from entrenched Islamic State fighters, a commander on the scene said. Special forces Lt. Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi said that his troops are "moving very slowly" and that IS fighters are responding with car bombs, snipers and dozens of armed drones. Source
  • Attack on Syrian security forces in Homs kills dozens, prompts airstrikes

    World News CBC News
    Suicide bombers stormed two Syrian security offices in Homs on Saturday, killing dozens with gunfire and explosions including a senior officer and prompting airstrikes against the last rebel-held enclave in the western city. The jihadist rebel alliance Tahrir al-Sham said in a social media post that five suicide bombers had carried out the attack, which it celebrated with the words "thanks be to God," but stopped short of explicitly claiming responsibility. Source
  • TSB investigating Toronto incident involving Air Canada plane

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- The Transportation Safety Board is investigating an incident involving an Air Canada flight from Halifax that landed at Toronto Pearson International Airport on Friday night. A safety board spokeswoman says Flight 623 was carrying 118 people and so far no injuries have been reported. Source
  • Air Canada plane from Halifax slides from Toronto runway in heavy fog

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- The Transportation Safety Board is investigating an incident involving an Air Canada flight from Halifax that landed at Toronto Pearson International Airport on Friday night. A safety board spokeswoman says Flight 623 was carrying 118 people and so far no injuries have been reported. Source
  • No winning ticket for Friday night's $10M Lotto Max draw

    Canada News CTV News
    If you’re feeling lucky you might want to pick up a Lotto Max ticket, because this Friday’s jackpot is going to be a record breaker. Source
  • Zimbabwe's Mugabe marks 93rd birthday in opposition area

    World News CTV News
    MATOPO HILLS, Zimbabwe -- Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe celebrated his 93rd birthday Saturday amid granite hills where ancient spirits are said to dwell, defying calls to resign after nearly four decades in power in a region known for opposing the man who says he'll run again in 2018 elections. Source
  • 'Luckiest 2 guys in the Arctic' rescued by military plane training for search and rescue

    Canada News CBC News
    A Royal Canadian Air Force Twin Otter crew out for some search and rescue training accidentally found, and rescued, two Nunavut hunters needing help this week. Thom Doelman, a captain with the Royal Canadian Air Force out of Yellowknife, said the crew was flying near Hall Beach as part of Operation Nunalivut, a sovereignty operation conducted annually in Canada's North. Source