WARNING: This story contains disturbing details.
The charges have been stayed against a Winnipeg woman whose infant baby was found dead in a garbage bin in Winnipeg’s North End earlier this year.
A Manitoba Justice spokesperson confirmed the Crown had entered a stay of proceedings on all charges against Jeanene Rosa Moar earlier this month.
Moar was charged in June with manslaughter and concealing the body of a child after her infant girl was found dead in a garbage bin between Boyd Avenue and Redwood Avenue.
Police told media at the time investigators believed the infant was still alive when she was placed in the garbage bin.
The provincial spokesperson said the development in the case came after the Crown had been speaking with the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy.
The spokesperson said the Crown told the court on Oct. 5, that, “Following that discussion, we arrived at the conclusion that we would not be in a position to determine the cause of death – whether by unlawful act, otherwise unavoidable circumstances, or natural causes.
As a result, we are no longer satisfied that there is a reasonable likelihood of convicting Ms. Moar for any offence arising from these unfortunate circumstances.”
Adam Hodge, a criminal defence lawyer representing Moar, said the stay of proceedings is not a shock.
“From our perspective, Jeanene was always innocent of these charges,” he said.
He said Moar was released from custody about a week before the charges were stayed – spending around four months in custody.
“I think she’s just happy that this is all behind her and she can move on with her life.”
‘WE CAN’T RUSH TO JUDGMENT HERE’ JUSTICE PROFESSOR SAYS
Doug King, a justice studies professor at Calgary’s Mount Royal University, said he was not completely surprised to hear the charges against Moar were being stayed.
“That happens much more often than most people realize – it’s about 35 per cent of all cases end up being stayed,” he said.
“It’s really important to remember that a person is innocent until proven guilty. And that assumption holds to right until the very point the judge says guilty. So we can’t rush to judgment here related to a case like this.”
He pointed out that a stay of proceedings does not automatically withdraw the charges. Typically, it freezes the court proceedings, and within a year if no further evidence is brought forward, the charges will be dropped at the end of the stay.
Hodge said while the Crown could reinstitute charges, he doesn’t believe that will happen.
“It’s incredibly rare,” he said. “In this case, I think the Crown, after speaking with the pathologist, realized that there was no reasonable likelihood of conviction. I don’t anticipate that’s going to change in a year.”
King said it is a tragic situation; one that will be felt in the community with questions that he said will likely not be answered.
“I think we have to understand that oftentimes, solutions to this kind of social tragedy never comes from the criminal justice system,” he said. “So I feel for the people of Winnipeg because this is not the way that you heal with this kind of uncertainty.”
Hodge said what the community can take away from this is that Moar is an innocent person.
“This is not somebody who the public should be concerned about,” he said. “What Winnipeg and Winnipeggers can take away from this is that the evidence wasn’t there to substantiate the allegations that were made in this case.”
-with files from CTV’s Josh Crabb