WARNING: This story contains disturbing details.
The charges against a woman from Winnipeg whose baby was found dead in a garbage can in Winnipeg’s North End earlier this year have been dropped.
A Justice Department spokesman in Manitoba confirmed that the Crown had suspended proceedings against Jeanene Rosa Moar earlier this month.
Moar was charged with manslaughter and hiding the body of a child in June after her daughter was found dead in a garbage can between Boyd Avenue and Redwood Avenue.
Police told the media when investigators believed the child was still alive when she was placed in the trash.
The provincial spokesman said the development in the case came after the Crown spoke with the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy.
The spokesperson said the Crown told the court on Oct. 5 that: “Following that discussion, we have come to the conclusion that we would not be in a position to determine the cause of death – whether through an unlawful act, otherwise unavoidable circumstances, or natural causes.
As a result, we are no longer convinced that there is a reasonable chance of convicting Ms Moar for any criminal offense arising out of these unfortunate circumstances.”
Adam Hodge, a criminal defense attorney representing Moar, said the suspension of the proceedings is not a shock.
“From our perspective, Jeanene was always innocent of these charges,” he said.
He said Moar was released about a week before the charges were held and spent about four months in custody.
“I think she’s just glad that this is all behind her and that she can move on with her life.”
‘WE CAN’T GET HERE TO JUDGE’ SAYS JUSTICE PROFESSOR
Doug King, a professor of justice studies at Mount Royal University in Calgary, said he wasn’t completely surprised to learn that the charges against Moar were being dropped.
“That happens much more often than most people realize — about 35 percent of all cases end up being arrested,” he said.
“It’s very important to remember that a person is innocent until proven guilty. And that assumption holds until the judge says guilty. So we can’t jump to a judgment here on a case like this.”
He pointed out that a stay of the proceedings does not automatically withdraw the charges. It usually freezes the court proceedings, and within a year if no further evidence is presented, the charges are dropped at the end of the stay.
Hodge said that while the Crown could reinstate charges, it does not believe it will.
“It’s incredibly rare,” he said. “In this case, I think that after talking to the pathologist, the Crown realized there was no reasonable chance of conviction. I don’t expect that to change in a year.”
King said it is a tragic situation; one that will be felt in the community with questions he said are unlikely to be answered.
“I think we need to understand that solutions to these kinds of social tragedies often never come from the criminal justice system,” he said. “So I sympathize with the people of Winnipeg because this is not the way you heal with this kind of insecurity.”
Hodge said what the community can get out of this is that Moar is an innocent person.
“This is not someone the public should be concerned about,” he said. “What Winnipeg and Winnipeggers can conclude from this is that the evidence was not there to substantiate the allegations in this case.”
-with files from CTV’s Josh Crabb