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Video confession of newborn-murder suspect admitted as evidence

The Calgary Courts Centre.

Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

The key piece of evidence against Meredith Borowiec – a videotaped confession to police that she tossed her two newborns in the trash, leaving them to die – has been ruled admissible at the Calgary woman's double-murder trial.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Peter McIntyre, who is hearing the case without a jury, concluded Tuesday that the 31-year-old woman's Charter rights were not breached when she told a police detective about two secret home births, and her subsequent disposal of the live babies. Their bodies were never found.

"The Crown's case depends upon whether the confessions are admissible," Judge McIntyre told the court.

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He found no evidence of "police trickery" and concluded that the accused "exercised her free will" in making her statements to Detective Karla Malsam-Dudar during a lengthy interrogation at a police station in 2011. Ms. Borowiec's rights to have a fair trial, consult a lawyer and remain silent were not breached, he said.

Ms. Borowiec, who was under investigation in connection with the 2010 rescue of a newborn boy from a dumpster outside her home, told Det. Malsam-Dudar that she also delivered two other children, one in 2008 and another in 2009. She told the officer that she was "horrified" with herself after placing each in garbage bags and then a dumpster.

"It was like something took over me," she said. "It sounds dumb. I wasn't in control."

Ms. Borowiec was subsequently charged with second-degree murder in the deaths of the two infants.

She has been in custody since her arrest in 2011, and is scheduled to stand trial this fall for attempted murder of the boy born in 2010 who was saved from the dumpster by the infant's father when passersby heard crying. He didn't know his girlfriend was pregnant, court heard.

Police said the baby was placed in a home. Judge McIntyre, who referred to the child as "baby Joseph," told the court that he "is now a healthy infant."

Ms. Borowiec, who was clad in a baggy green track suit and shackled at the ankles, dabbed her eyes when the judge spoke of baby Joseph. Due to the strike among prison guards and sheriffs in Alberta, she was escorted into the courtroom through the main doors and passed spectators.

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Defence lawyers Andrea Serink and Michael Bates argued that Ms. Borowiec's rights were repeatedly violated. Police, for example, never told her that she was a suspect in the infant deaths. Her statements only came due to "overborne" police tactics, the defence maintained.

But Crown prosecutor Jayme Williams argued that the statements were lawfully obtained, voluntary and that police only had suspicions of earlier pregnancies, but didn't consider her a murder suspect.

Judge McIntyre relied heavily on what he saw on the videotapes and concluded that the accused is "intelligent with a strong memory" and a "high level of vocabulary."

"The videotapes are the best evidence of voluntariness and whether Charter obligations were met," he said.

The trial continues Wednesday.

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About the Author
Dawn Walton

Dawn Walton has been based in Calgary for The Globe and Mail since 2000. Before leaving Toronto to head West, she won a National Newspaper Award and was twice nominated for the Michener Award for her work with the Report on Business. More

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