Content Warning: descriptions of violence involving children and animals.
The teen who beat infant baby Nikosis Jace Cantre to death in July 2016 will serve an adult life sentence.
Applause broke out from the family as Judge Sanjeev Anand handed down the sentence Tuesday afternoon, a year-and-a-half after the girl pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Oct. 2016.
Anand rebuked the family for the outburst, saying while he understood the emotions involved the judgment wasn’t meant to take “an eye for an eye.”
He said the goal was to ensure public safety and ensure the teen got the lifelong treatment she needs.
The now 18-year-old’s name is still protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act as the court sorts out where the teen will be sentenced. The judge will keep the ban in place for 30 days as the defence considers an appeal.
She was 16 at the time of the killing, wandering the streets after escaping from Kilburn Hall — where she was serving a youth sentence for assault.
She was taken in by Cantre’s relatives after she was found late at night asking for a place to stay.
According to a video confession played in court last December, the family provided her with food and clothes, and drank with her at their home.
The teen described walking into the baby’s room on the night of July 3 and holding him “like a mom.” She said she became angry and laid Cantre on the bed, beginning to suffocate and punch him.
“I was sick and tired of life. That’s why I hurt that baby and killed it,” she said in the video.
Anand called it an“unsophisticated and brutal crime,” and told the teen he believed she was in full control of her actions that night.
Defence lawyer Brian Pfefferle argued for a youth sentence, noting his client was allegedly abused by her foster father and was diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome.
He also noted she didn’t exhibit any planning in the crime.
“She demonstrated devastatingly foolish behaviour,” he said.
Psychological reports submitted by the Crown indicated the teen had a history of violence, including squeezing the life out of a mouse at a pet store and nearly killing her 10-year-old cousin with morphine pills.
A representative from a federal rehabilitative program said they determined the girl wouldn’t learn from treatment under a youth sentence.
Anand indicated in his oral decision a youth sentence would have been more likely if the teen’s behaviour could be attributed to age-related immaturity.
However, he said it “pained” him to assert the teen wouldn’t improve with age, and the chances of rehabilitation were low.
He recommended the girl’s sentence be served at Saskatoon’s Prairie Regional Pyschiatric Centre, where trained professionals could give her the care she needs.
She will serve seven years before being eligible for parole.
Family tries to move past ‘nightmare’
Outside the courthouse family members of baby Cantre hugged and held photos of the lost infant, thanking God for bringing justice.
“Happy, I guess,” grandfather Jeffery Longman said of his reaction to the decision.
“The life sentence will never bring him back.”
He said the focus for the family would be to “pull together and heal,” though he admitted it would be difficult to do.
“Trying to wake up from this nightmare is never going to happen,” he said through tears.
Longman also addressed the temporary hold on releasing the teen’s name.
He said he hopes the public gets to know the name soon.
“So everyone will know who she is, and what she did was wrong,” he said.
“So this will never happen again.”
— Chris Vandenbreekel (@Vandecision) February 27, 2018