Victoria woman Kaela Janine Mehl is appealing her conviction in the murder of her 18-month-old daughter with the allegation that one of the jurors in the trial was biased against her. (Lauren Boothby/VICTORIA NEWS)

Victoria mother convicted in baby’s murder seeks new trial, claims juror was biased

Kaela Janine Mehl convicted of murdering 18-month-old daughter in 2017

A Victoria woman convicted in the murder of her 18-month-old daughter is claiming a juror in the murder trial was biased against her.

In October 2017, Kaela Janine Mehl, 37, was found guilty of murdering her daughter, Charlotte Cunningham, and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

On Sept. 16, 2015, Mehl fed her daughter sleeping pills before smothering her. She also attempted to kill herself.

Mehl’s defence that she was not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder was rejected by the 12-person jury, which included four men and eight women.

However, Mehl alleges that throughout the trial one of the jurors made gestures of support or sympathy towards the family of her daughter’s father. Claiming the juror was biased, and her own lawyer ineffective for failing to bring the gestures to the attention of the judge, Mehl is seeking a new trial.

READ ALSO: Kaela Mehl guilty of first degree murder, sentenced to life in prison

Charlotte Cunningham was 18 months old when she was murdered by her mother Kaela Mehl in Victoria, B.C. on Sept. 16, 2015. Mehl was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. (Submitted photo)

The alleged behaviour of the juror was not reflected on the trial’s record but has since been subject to a post-trial investigation that includes the observations of 22 people who would have witnessed the juror’s behaviour. At appeal, the court is expected to hear the observations of those witnesses which include the appellant, trial counsel, sheriffs and spectators seated in the courtroom gallery.

Evidence is also expected to include an affidavit sworn by the juror, who denies making gestures to the gallery.

The Crown applied for a report from the trial judge asking for any and all observations of jurors as well as the nature, timing and frequency of any gestures witnessed, but a three-justice panel dismissed that application, writing that, among other reasons, the inquiry may draw the trial judge into “factual controversy.”

The panel also worried the court would be seen as giving more weight to the trial judge’s interpretation of alleged gestures over other witnesses. They also wrote that if the judge hadn’t observed any gestures, nothing would be gained by seeking the order.

“The parties agree the appeal will likely proceed on the factual premise that, on one or more occasions, the juror gestured to spectators sitting in the gallery in proximity to the father of the deceased infant and his family,” they wrote. “The controversy on appeal will centre on the frequency with which those gestures were made and what they were intended to signal.”

Mehl’s appeal hearing is set for December.

READ ALSO: Jury must determine degree of planning in killing of toddler


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: nina.grossman@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CourtmurderVictoria

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Creston’s Sunset Seed Company closes for good

“It’s time for me to retire, simply put,” said Tom Heal, who became the manager of the family business in 2005

Column: One person can make a difference

“While it’s sad for many to see the Sunset Seed Company close their doors for good, it dawned on me that several were going to miss Tom and his aura more than the goods that he sold”

Nine new COVID-19 cases announced in Interior Health region

The total number of cases since the pandemic started is now at 531 for the region

Terry Tiessen to run as Libertarian candidate in Nelson-Creston

Tiessen previously ran in the 2019 federal election

Nicole Charlwood to run for Green Party

Charlwood was previously the Greens local campaign manager

Weekend sees 267 cases, 3 deaths in B.C.; Dr. Henry says events leading to COVID spread

There are currently 1,302 active cases in B.C., while 3,372 people are under public health monitoring

Survey finds doctors worry supplies of flu vaccine, PPE will lag demand

Canadian health officials have said additional flu vaccines have been ordered to meet expected demand

Search suspended for Indigenous elder last seen mushroom picking in northwest B.C.

Mushroom picker Thomas (Tommy) Dennis has been missing since Sept. 16

Ahead of likely second wave, 60% of Canadians relaxing COVID-19 measures

Proportion of Canadians not following safety measures has dropped by 3 per cent in the past two weeks

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Canada’s population tops 38 million, even as COVID-19 pandemic slows growth

Immigration, the top population driver, decreased due to the pandemic

Lightning strike: Tampa Bay blanks Dallas 2-0 to win Stanley Cup

Hedman wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP

16 MLAs retiring from B.C. politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation

Taxpayers pay $4 for every dollar MLAs contribute to their pensions

Most Read