Victoria woman Kaela Janine Mehl is appealing her conviction in the murder of her 18-month-old daughter with the allegation that one of the jurors in the trial was biased against her. (Lauren Boothby/VICTORIA NEWS)

Victoria woman Kaela Janine Mehl is appealing her conviction in the murder of her 18-month-old daughter with the allegation that one of the jurors in the trial was biased against her. (Lauren Boothby/VICTORIA NEWS)

Victoria mother convicted in baby’s murder seeks new trial, claims juror was biased

Kaela Janine Mehl convicted of murdering 18-month-old daughter in 2017

A Victoria woman convicted in the murder of her 18-month-old daughter is claiming a juror in the murder trial was biased against her.

In October 2017, Kaela Janine Mehl, 37, was found guilty of murdering her daughter, Charlotte Cunningham, and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

On Sept. 16, 2015, Mehl fed her daughter sleeping pills before smothering her. She also attempted to kill herself.

Mehl’s defence that she was not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder was rejected by the 12-person jury, which included four men and eight women.

However, Mehl alleges that throughout the trial one of the jurors made gestures of support or sympathy towards the family of her daughter’s father. Claiming the juror was biased, and her own lawyer ineffective for failing to bring the gestures to the attention of the judge, Mehl is seeking a new trial.

READ ALSO: Kaela Mehl guilty of first degree murder, sentenced to life in prison

Charlotte Cunningham was 18 months old when she was murdered by her mother Kaela Mehl in Victoria, B.C. on Sept. 16, 2015. Mehl was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. (Submitted photo)

The alleged behaviour of the juror was not reflected on the trial’s record but has since been subject to a post-trial investigation that includes the observations of 22 people who would have witnessed the juror’s behaviour. At appeal, the court is expected to hear the observations of those witnesses which include the appellant, trial counsel, sheriffs and spectators seated in the courtroom gallery.

Evidence is also expected to include an affidavit sworn by the juror, who denies making gestures to the gallery.

The Crown applied for a report from the trial judge asking for any and all observations of jurors as well as the nature, timing and frequency of any gestures witnessed, but a three-justice panel dismissed that application, writing that, among other reasons, the inquiry may draw the trial judge into “factual controversy.”

The panel also worried the court would be seen as giving more weight to the trial judge’s interpretation of alleged gestures over other witnesses. They also wrote that if the judge hadn’t observed any gestures, nothing would be gained by seeking the order.

“The parties agree the appeal will likely proceed on the factual premise that, on one or more occasions, the juror gestured to spectators sitting in the gallery in proximity to the father of the deceased infant and his family,” they wrote. “The controversy on appeal will centre on the frequency with which those gestures were made and what they were intended to signal.”

Mehl’s appeal hearing is set for December.

READ ALSO: Jury must determine degree of planning in killing of toddler


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: nina.grossman@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CourtmurderVictoria

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross has been named critic for Environment and Climate Change Strategy for the BC Liberals. (Black Press file photo)
Skeena MLA Ellis Ross named critic for Environment and Climate Change Strategy

Previously, Ross was the critic for LNG, Resource Opportunities, and Responsible Development

Red sky in morning: an early-morning sunrise on May 16, 2020, captured just north of Kitimat. (Eric Roy photo)
Clare’s Corner: Hello, darkness, my old friend

Why does the after-work darkness affect you so much more as an adult than as a child?

(Corrado Colombo photo)
Corrado Colombo, with his wife, Lucy. Colombo is from Italy, but met Kitimat born-and-raised Lucy on one of his annual fishing trips to Kitimat in the early 2000s.
In Our Valley: Corrado Colombo

Corrado Colombo never expected that an annual fishing trip to Kitimat would change his life

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Still from a video surveillance camera of a man alleged to have stolen from several people at knife-point in Chilliwack (Rosedale) early on Nov. 28, 2020. (Facebook)
B.C. man defends his family against intruder, saves neighbour while wielding hockey stick

RCMP looking for footage that captures violent crime spree in Chilliwack

Most Read