Grandfather guilty of manslaughter in death of grandson
ST. CATHARINES -- Calling it a “difficult and disturbing case,” Judge Joseph Nadel convicted a Thorold man of manslaughter Thursday in the death of his 13-month-old grandson.
Nadel concluded that based on the evidence, Brian Matthews, a 40-year-old long-haul trucker, violently shook Kody Smart and caused his death.
“Clearly, Brian Matthews did not intend to kill his grandson,” Nadel said. “While I am not obliged to determine why he assaulted Kody, I suspect that he acted out of frustration because the child would not stop crying.
“Matthews got home late Friday night after a long week on the road. He was obliged to wake up relatively early to take care of two young children. One of those children, Kody, cried a great deal. I suspect that Matthews’ store of patience with Kody was exhausted and that his patience became depleted when Kody would not stop crying. Matthews made the fatally bad choice to deal with Kody by violently shaking him.”
Matthews is free on bail and will return to court April 9 for a sentencing hearing. There is no minimum sentence for a manslaughter conviction if a firearm wasn’t used. The maximum penalty is life in prison.
Kody was apprehended by Family and Children’s Services Niagara and placed in Matthews’ care nine weeks and three days before his death.
Matthews had been convicted of child abuse in 1995. The victim was Kody’s father, Brett Smart, who was six months old at the time.
When Nadel read his verdict, there were gasps in the gallery.
Pamela York, Kody’s grandmother, was overcome with emotion and ran from the courtroom.
“It hurts even more because I knew something like this was going to happen,” York said. “My grandson suffered. How can someone do that to a baby? They all cry. They are trying to tell you something. It is your job as a parent to figure it out.
“My last visit with Kody was at the FACS building. I told them there was something going on in that home. Kody was screaming and vibrating and shaking. He did not want to go into his car seat.
“I told the worker something was wrong. She told me to shut up and put him in his car seat. She said I was acting like a vengeful ex.”