Judge tells jury witnesses had reason to lie in case of teen found stuffed suitcase

TORONTO -- Two key witnesses in the case against a man charged with killing his teenaged daughter both had reason to lie, a judge told jurors on Wednesday.

See Full Article

In charging the jury, Superior Court Justice Al O'Marra warned the seven women and five men to view the testimony against Everton Biddersingh given by his wife and son with extreme caution.

"A central issue is the credibility of the principle witnesses," O'Marra said during his lengthy instructions. "It is up to you to decide how much to believe."

Elaine Biddersingh testified that her "monster" husband was abusive and beat her daily -- testimony not supported by other evidence -- and that she had no idea how her 17-year-old stepdaughter, Melonie Biddersingh, died in their small Toronto apartment in 1994.

She did however testify that she accompanied her husband -- on his orders -- to the location north of Toronto where the suitcase carrying Melonie's body was set on fire in 1994.

O'Marra noted that Elaine Biddersingh was present during abuse of the teen, and faces her own first-degree murder trial in April.

"She has an interest in the outcome of the case, a strong motivation to lie," the judge said.

Everton Biddersingh, 60, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of his daughter, who experts estimated weighed just 50 pounds -- the size of an average eight-year-old -- when she died.

Autopsy results showed she had 21 bone fractures in her lower back, pelvic area and legs in various stages of healing -- injuries that might be seen in a car-crash victim.

Her older brother, Cleon Biddersingh, testified that his father inflicted the injuries -- at the behest of his stepmother, who he said ruled the roost and believed the teen was possessed by the devil -- by kicking and stomping her.

In addition to beatings and food deprivation, the girl was frequently chained to the wall, had her head pressed into the toilet which was then flushed, was confined for hours at a time to a tiny broom closet, or shut out on the balcony.

In the days before her death, she could barely walk, was incontinent, in pain, and suicidal, Cleon Biddersingh testified.

"He could see her bones and ribs," O'Marra said in recounting the sibling's testimony.

Cleon Biddersingh also said he complied with his father's orders to beat his sister, but that he was careful not to hurt her, testimony O'Marra highlighted.

O'Marra also noted that charges including aggravated assault and criminal negligence were stayed against Cleon Biddersingh. He also noted several apparent inconsistencies in the brother's testimony, saying it was up to jurors to decide what to believe.

It's not certain exactly how the teen died -- it would take almost 20 years to identify her charred remains -- but it appears she either starved to death or drowned. The defence, which called no witnesses, maintains Elaine Biddersingh was a domestic tyrant obsessed with demons who drowned the girl.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Could you receive a missile text alert on your phone? In B.C., not yet

    Canada News CBC News
    It was a terrifying morning in Hawaii last Saturday when thousands of people woke up to TV broadcasts, radio messages and a text alert on their smartphones warning them of an incoming ballistic missile. Of course, it turned out to be a false alarm. Source
  • Woman known for sneaking onto planes arrested again in Chicago

    World News CTV News
    CHICAGO -- A woman with a history of sneaking aboard planes slipped past security at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport this week and was flying to London when the airline realized she didn't have a ticket. Source
  • Family of Toronto man who disappeared near Toronto's Gay Village 'want the details' of how he died

    Canada News CBC News
    Andrew Kinsman's family is still searching for answers a day after a Toronto man was charged with first-degree murder in his disappearance and that of another man near the city's Gay Village last spring. "I want the details. Source
  • Company investigating after wind turbine collapses in Chatham-Kent, Ont.

    Canada News CTV News
    CHATHAM-KENT, Ont. -- A Maryland-based renewable energy company is investigating after one of its wind turbines collapsed in southwestern Ontario. Chad Reed, a spokesman for Terraform Power, said it happened late Thursday or early Friday at the company's Raleigh project in Chatham-Kent. Source
  • Conservatives question pope's airborne, shotgun nuptials

    World News CTV News
    LIMA, Peru -- The honeymoon, as it were, is apparently over. A day after Pope Francis grabbed headlines by pronouncing two flight attendants man and wife while flying 36,000 feet over Chile, the conservative Catholic commentariat on Friday questioned the legitimacy of the shotgun sacrament and warned it could cheapen the church's marriage preparation down the line. Source
  • Hawaii Gov. knew missile alert was false 15 minutes before he told public

    World News CTV News
    HONOLULU -- The Hawaii National Guard's top commander said Friday he told Gov. David Ige that a missile alert was a false alarm two minutes after it went out statewide. But the governor didn't tell the public until 15 minutes later. Source
  • Sikh man gets apology after a P.E.I. Legion told him to remove his turban

    Canada News CBC News
    A Sikh man says he was asked to remove his turban by staff at the Royal Canadian Legion in Tignish, P.E.I., on Wednesday night and along with his friend, was subject to racist remarks from patrons. Source
  • Quebec teen says smartphone rules are too tough in letter to school board

    Canada News CBC News
    A Quebec teen thinks his school's policy of seizing smartphones belonging to students caught using them in class goes too far. Vincent Duguay, 15, challenged his school's cellphone policy with a cease-and-desist letter sent to the local school board this week. Source
  • Timeline of Lac-Megantic events

    Canada News CTV News
    SHERBROOKE, Que. -- Three men were found not guilty Friday in connection with the Lac-Megantic train disaster in July 2013. Here is a timeline of key moments related to the the derailment: JULY 6, 2013: An unattended train with five locomotives and more than 70 tank cars carrying crude oil rolls down an incline before coming off the tracks in Lac-Megantic, Que. Source
  • Tom Petty died of accidental drug overdose, family says

    World News CBC News
    Tom Petty's family says an autopsy found his death last year was due to an accidental drug overdose. (Chris Pizello/Associated Press) Tom Petty's family and the Los Angeles coroner say his death last year was due to an accidental drug overdose. Source