Father guilty of murder in death of daughter found in suitcase
Everton Biddersingh convicted of 1994 killing
A father accused of starving or drowning his teenaged daughter two decades ago was convicted of first-degree murder on Thursday after weeks of graphic and disturbing testimony about the horrific abuse she suffered before she died.
Jurors took about four hours to find an impassive Everton Biddersingh guilty in the death of 17-year-old Melonie Biddersingh, which carries a mandatory life sentence without parole for 25 years.
“I certainly hope Melonie can rest more peaceful tonight,” said Toronto Det.-Sgt. Steve Ryan shortly after the decision.
Superior Court Justice Al O’Marra had sent the jurors to deliberate after concluding a charge he had started a day earlier by outlining prosecution and defence positions.
The Crown maintained Biddersingh, 60, drowned or starved his daughter after a period of prolonged abuse, or that she died while her father unlawfully confined her in the small Toronto apartment they shared with her stepmother, Elaine Biddersingh.
“They treated Melonie like a slave,” O’Marra told jurors in summing up the prosecution’s case.
“She was imprisoned and physically.”
The teen, whose charred remains were found stuffed in a suitcase in an isolated industrial area, had come to Canada from Jamaica for a better life.
Instead, by the time of her death, she weighed a skeletal 50 pounds and had 21 broken bones in various stages of healing. A vegetable was found in her vagina.
At no time was she allowed to leave the apartment, spending countless hours chained to furniture, stuffed in a tiny closet, or locked out on a balcony. Her father, according to one witness, would kick her and force the helpless victim’s head into a toilet and then flush.
O’Marra had told the seven women and five men on the panel they could find Biddersingh guilty of lesser offences such as second-degree murder, attempted murder or manslaughter if they couldn’t
emotionally agree on a first-degree murder conviction.
Several hours into their deliberations, court resumed when jurors sought clarification on the law related to forcible or unlawful confinement and a short while later, they returned their verdict.
According to the Crown, O’Marra told them earlier, Biddersingh knew the girl could die but never sought medical attention because her body was “riddled with signs of abuse.”
After she died, Biddersingh maintained his daughter had run away.
He never filed a missing person’s report.
It was only in 2011 that his wife told a pastor what had happened, allowing police to identify the teen’s remains and lay charges in March 2012.
For its part, the defence argued that experts had concluded the teen drowned but no evidence shows her father actually did it.
Instead, the defence said Elaine Biddersingh, 54, drowned her stepdaughter because she hated her and believed she was possessed by the devil.
Canada’s veterans ombudsman says he’ll stay at his post, even though the new Liberal government has asked him to step aside.
Guy Parent said he has a lot to accomplish during the threeyear renewal of his mandate, approved in the waning hours of the Conservative government — and he insists he was never a partisan actor.
“I don’t see my appointment as a political appointment,” Parent said Thursday, noting that he has already informed the Liberal government that he plans to carry on with his duties.
Just before Christmas, Liberal House leader Dominic LeBlanc sent letters to 33 Harper government appointees requesting that they step aside or turn down their early reappointments. He also suggested the rejected candidates compete for the positions.
Five years ago, Parent competed for the job after the Conservative government refused to reappoint the country’s first veterans ombudsman, retired colonel Pat Stogran. On January 21, 2015 The PEI Baby Book will hit doorsteps and newstands across PEI as well as our websites. Make sure your baby is included!
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