This case concerned the interpretation of the infanticide provisions under the Criminal Code

LEAF intervened before the Ontario Court of Appeal. 

Facts 

At seventeen years old, L.B. killed her six-week-old son. Four years later, she killed her ten-week-old son. In both cases, her involvement in the deaths was not detected. L.B. later admitted killing her two children, and was charged with two counts of first degree murder. At trial, she relied on the partial defence of infanticide, focusing in part on the role of post-partum depression. The trial judge found L.B. not guilty of the murder charges, but guilty of infanticide. The Crown appealed the murder acquittals to the Ontario Court of Appeal. 

Arguments 

LEAF argued that women who killed newly-born children tended to be young, socially isolated and otherwise marginalized, and/or without adequate social or economic supports to cope with childbirth or caring for a child.  These women should have access to the reduced culpability offence of infanticide that carries a maximum sentence of 5 years, as opposed to life imprisonment for murder.  

The offence of infanticide recognized the overlapping social, economic, psychological, medical and other effects of childbirth and lactation in the commission of the crime. As a result, infanticide continued to play an important role as a reduced-culpability homicide offence that is separate and distinct from murder. 

Outcome 

The Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed the Crown’s appeal, and found that L.B. had been properly convicted of infanticide as opposed to murder. 

LEAF is grateful to Marie Henein, Matthew Gourlay and Joanna Birenbaum, counsel in this case. 

Download the factum here

Read the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision here

Our records are imperfect, but we are doing our best to update them – if you were involved with LEAF on this case but your name is not reflected here, please email us at [email protected].