Sentencing hearing begins for man convicted of killing baby Veronica Poitras


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Poitras was mortally wounded Aug. 26, 2017, at her mother’s Cold Lake apartment. Whitford, who is not the baby’s biological father, was in a relationship with her mother, Jaylene Houle. Whitford is a pipefitter by trade.

Houle arrived home after running errands with another child and found her daughter unresponsive on the bed. Court heard Whitford and the baby had been napping. Houle rushed her across the street to a hospital. Poitras was eventually airlifted to the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton, where she died Aug. 28, 2017.

A doctor later determined Poitras suffered three skull fractures, in addition to bruising and injuries to other parts of her body.

Hillier found that while there was no evidence of a “triggering event or motive” for Whitford’s actions, the jury concluded he was the only one capable of causing the injuries that killed Poitras. The most charitable explanation was that Whitford “responded to the concerns of an inconsolable infant” by violently lashing out, Hillier said.

Jason Houle (centre) is seen with his family in front of the Cold Lake Provincial Court Wednesday, October 25, 2017. he said he has had trouble sleeping since his granddaughter, 16-month-old Veronica Poitras, was murdered in Cold Lake. (Kelly-Anne Riess/Postmedia)
Demonstrators outside Cold Lake provincial court Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. Kelly-Anne Riess/Postmedia

In Canada, manslaughter has no maximum or minimum sentence. Manslaughters are typically said to fall on a range from “near accident” to “near murder.”

Rudiak said Whitford’s case was closer to near murder. He argued Whitford would have had to strike Poitras at least several times to inflict the injuries.

Dunlap, on the other hand, suggested Poitras’s death was closer to the near accident end. He pointed to testimony that Poitras had fallen off the couch in the days before her death, and noted rib fractures could have occurred during attempts at CPR.

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