Jury to decide fate of Sask. couple accused of killing 4-year-old, neglecting sister

REGINA -- A jury will have to decide whether a couple accused of killing a four-year-old girl and neglecting her younger sister purposely hurt them and denied them food.

See Full Article

The defence and Crown gave closing arguments Thursday at the trial of Tammy and Kevin Goforth, who face charges of second-degree murder and criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

Lawyers for the couple told the jury that the Crown hasn't proven the pair intended to harm the children.

Tammy Goforth's lawyer said the couple threw birthday parties for the girls and took them to the park, museums and church.

"They didn't hide these girls," Jeff Deagle told the jury. "They weren't harming these girls. They were making them part of their lives."

The girls, who can't be identified because of a publication ban, were placed in the Goforths' Regina home in November 2011.

Shortly before midnight on July 31, 2012, the four-year-old was brought to Regina General Hospital "in crisis," court heard. She was taken off life support a couple of days later. An agreed statement of facts says she died of a brain injury after suffering cardiac arrest. She was also malnourished and dehydrated.

Her two-year-old sister survived.

Deagle acknowledged that the girls had lost weight, but said that can happen when someone is sick with the flu and doesn't eat much.

He said his client was trying to nurse the girls back to health. He pointed to evidence photos showing soup bowls on the kitchen counter the day the older sister was rushed to hospital.

"The real issue is not whether they were prevented from having food or deprived of having liquids," Deagle said. "Really, the issue is when should they have taken them to the doctor."

Kevin Goforth testified earlier this week that the children were never denied food. He said supper time at the family's home was important and the girls, who were big eaters, were always part of it.

Crown prosecutor Kim Jones said the girls weren't given enough food "for a prolonged period of time."

"This did not happen overnight," Jones told the jury.

"Physically, the girls were wasting away and that would have been readily apparent to anybody. Their faces became gaunt and their arms and legs were skin and bones."

Jones also said the girls were kept in poor conditions and sometimes restrained.

Court heard from Dr. Sharon Leibel with the child abuse unit at Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region. Leibel testified there were bruises, skin abrasions, open skin and scrapes across the four-year-old's body.

A forensic identification expert testified that he found duct tape in the Goforth home with hair stuck to it.

Const. Garth Fleece said he also found a large amount of dark hair in a knot on a piece of pink fabric, as well as cardboard with blood and feces in the girls' bedroom. The officer testified that he was looking for items such as rope or string that could be used as binding.

Defence lawyer Noah Evanchuk, who is representing Kevin Goforth, said police "had tunnel vision."

"They wanted to find evidence that would fit a theory. It's called confirmation basis -- find things that fit a theory, not find evidence and arrive at a theory," said Evanchuk.

Tammy Goforth testified bruises on the girls' ankles were caused by wearing high-cut shoes without socks, while contusions on their wrists were from mittens taped over their hands to stop them from scratching themselves.

Deliberations could begin Friday after the judge gives instructions to the jury.


Latest Canada & World News

  • Britain slams 'absurd' Russian denials of Skripal poisoning

    World News CTV News
    BRUSSELS - British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Monday described Russian claims that it is not responsible for the poisoning of a former spy as absurd, and said the U.K. has the full backing of its European partners. Source
  • Search for missing Montreal boy continues, one week after his disappearance

    Canada News CTV News
    Montreal police are considering using divers to search the Riviere des Prairies to find Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou if tests conducted on Sunday show the river is safe. It's been a week since the 10-year-old boy left his family's home and disappeared while walking to a friend's house. Source
  • Putin gains massive mandate for nationalist policies

    World News CTV News
    MOSCOW -- Russian President Vladimir Putin won a fourth presidential term with nearly 77 per cent of the vote -- his highest score ever and a massive mandate to pursue his nationalist, assertive policies for another six years in power. Source
  • Another explosion injures 2 in Austin, but cause unclear

    World News CBC News
    Two people were injured in another explosion in Texas' capital, and police weren't saying if it was caused by a package bomb like the three that detonated earlier this month elsewhere in the city. The latest blast occurred around 8:30 p.m. Source
  • Another explosion injures 2 in Austin

    World News CTV News
    AUSTIN, Texas -- At least two people were injured in another explosion in Texas' capital Sunday night, after three package bombs detonated earlier this month in other parts of the city and killed two people and injured two others. Source
  • Boy shoots sister in video game controller dispute: police

    World News CTV News
    Authorities in Mississippi say a 9-year-old boy has shot his 13-year-old sister in the head and wounded her after an argument over a video game controller. Monroe County Sheriff Cecil Cantrell told local news outlets that the girl wouldn't give up the video game controller when her brother wanted it on Saturday. Source
  • Volunteers won't give up search for boy, 3, swept away in Ontario river

    Canada News CTV News
    Nearly one month after a little boy was swept away in an Ontario river, dozens of volunteers continue to search for him. Kaden Young, 3, was ripped from his mother’s arms after her minivan ended up in the swollen Grand River, near Orangeville, Ont. Source
  • Lawyer charges grieving family thousands for time spent responding to complaint against him

    Canada News CBC News
    A grieving daughter was blindsided when the lawyer hired to settle her father's estate charged thousands of dollars for time he spent responding to a complaint the family filed against him. But lawyers are not allowed to bill for hours spent responding to complaints, according to the Law Society of Ontario. Source
  • 2018 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremonies

    Canada News CBC News
    2018 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremonies LIVE0:00 Nearly 2,000 athletes from the circumpolar north have gathered in Hay River, Northwest Territories, for the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Arctic Winter Games Source
  • B.C. teachers' union to ask for higher salaries to help with shortages

    Canada News CTV News
    VANCOUVER -- The union representing British Columbia teachers will look to boost salaries, when their contract negotiations open later this year. B.C. Teachers' Federation president Glen Hansman told a crowd at the union's annual general meeting Saturday night that the province's low starting salaries mean that B.C. Source