Saskatchewan’s Court of Appeal has rejected the appeal of a woman convicted in the death of a child, but a new trial will soon be underway for her husband.
Tammy and Kevin Goforth, were convicted in the death of a four year-old girl in 2016. They were also found guilty of harming her two-year-old sister. The victims were placed in the Goforth’s care by Social Services in 2011.
Tammy was found guilty of second-degree murder and unlawfully causing bodily harm. She was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 17 years.
Her husband, Kevin, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal released its decision Tuesday.
The three judges who heard the case agreed to deny Tammy’s appeal but were split on whether to order a new trial for Kevin. A new trial was ordered for him with a vote of 2-1.
According to court documents, the victims were severely malnourished and dehydrated. The four year-old was taken to hospital where she died. The two year-old survived with treatment.
The Court of Appeal called the evidence of neglect and starvation of the children "extremely disturbing."
The couple appealed their homicide convictions and sentences, but only Kevin appealed the bodily harm charge.
In her appeal, Tammy Goforth argued her murder verdict was inconsistent with her husband's manslaughter conviction and that there was "no rational basis upon which the two verdicts can be reconciled."
She also said evidence against her in the trial was "virtually identical" to the evidence the Crown brought against her husband.
The judges called the claim unreasonable, adding that the Court of Appeal "may not interfere with a jury verdict on the ground that it is inconsistent unless the appellant persuades the court that no reasonable jury, whose members have applied their minds to the evidence, could have arrived at that verdict."
They also said evidence against each of the Goforths wasn't similar.
Two of the Court of Appeal judges found that the trial judge erred in her jury instructions regarding the husband and the basis on which jurors could find he had failed to provide the necessaries of life to the child.
"There is a reasonable possibility that the errors we have identified in the charge may have misled the jury," the judges wrote in their majority decision.
"It cannot be said that the outcome of the trial on the charges against Mr. Goforth would necessarily have been the same if these errors had not occurred."
With files from Daniela Germano of The Canadian Press.