Defence lawyer Jeremy Mills and client Kaela Mehl confer outside the Victoria law courts. Closing arguments happened Tuesday in Mehl’s first-degree murder trial in the death of her daughter, Charlotte Cunningham. (Lauren Boothby/VICTORIA NEWS)

MURDER TRIAL: Jury must determine degree of planning in killing of toddler

Court hears closing submissions from Crown and defence lawyers Tuesday

After three weeks in court, the jury in Kaela Mehl’s murder trial will begin deliberating to determine her fate.

The four-man, eight-woman Victoria jury heard closing submissions from the defence and Crown lawyers Tuesday morning, followed by instructions from Justice Joyce DeWitt-Van Oosten. They will decide whether Mehl, 34, is guilty of first degree murder in the Sept. 16, 2015 death of her 18-month-old daughter, Charlotte Cunningham.

DeWitt-Van Oosten told the jury they must consider four things: if Mehl caused unlawful harm to Charlotte; if she caused Charlotte’s death; if she intended to cause Charlotte’s death, or intended to cause bodily harm she knew could have led to her death, and if the killing was both planned and deliberate.

The jury may convict her of first degree murder, second degree murder or manslaughter, depending on how they answer those questions.

In his closing statements, defence lawyer Jeremy Mills reminded the jury Mehl does not dispute the fact she caused the death of her daughter by feeding her the sleeping pill zopiclone mixed in yogurt, then smothered her. He asked jurors to recall the testimonies of forensic psychiatrist Dr. Shabehram Lohrasbe and Mehl’s regular psychiatrist, Dr. David Yaxley.

“Both doctors shared this view, that at the time of this act, Miss Mehl’s intent-forming processes were significantly compromised,” Mills said, noting Yaxley testified that “the bottom fell out” of Mehl’s mental state the night Charlotte died.

Prosecutor Kimberly Henders Miller argued that Mehl decided to kill herself because she was tired of fighting a losing custody battle, and killed Charlotte to prevent her ex-husband Daniel Cunningham and his family from getting custody of the child.

Henders Miller played audio recordings heard previously in the trial for the jury, taken by Mehl of her interactions with Cunningham and his family.

“[Charlotte] needs to go home and she needs to be with me,” Mehl said in the recording.

The prosecutor said Mehl referred to herself as Charlotte’s primary caregiver, and that Mehl grew concerned she was losing control over the child’s life. “I would suggest that her concerns were keeping her home and her child under her control.

“Her words were [to Cunningham]: ‘she’s my life. why would you take her away from me?’”

Mehl planned to kill Charlotte late on Sept. 15, Henders Miller argued – the child was determined to have died in the early hours of Sept. 16. Despite the short time frame, a plan was created nonetheless, she said.

The jury is expected to return a verdict this week.

lauren.boothby@vicnews.com

Read Victoria News’ coverage of the Kaela Mehl murder trial

Oct. 4: Kaela Mehl guilty of first degree murder, sentenced to life in prison

Oct. 4: First degree murder conviction requires killing be planned and deliberate

Oct. 3: Jury must determine degree of planning in killing of toddler

Sept 28: Crown challenges psychiatrist as defence wraps in Mehl murder case

Sept: 27: Drafted suicide note revealed Mehl’s mental state: psychiatrist

Sept: 26: Victoria woman hired P.I. during custody battle

Sept. 21: Victoria woman had a mental disorder when she killed daughter: psychiatrist

Sept. 19: First responders describe gruesome Victoria crime scene to jury

Sept. 16: Mehl murder trial: “She was a good mother”

Sept. 14: Emotional day in Kaela Mehl trial as defendant’s suicide email read aloud

Sept. 13: Saanich police cautioned couple night before toddler was found dead

Sept. 12: Victoria mom charged with toddler’s murder weeps listening to recording of daughter crying

kaela mehlmurder trial

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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

A 2.5-magnitude earthquake occurred beneath San Juan Island, Wash. – 25 kilometres from Sidney – late on Oct. 30. (Screenshot via United States Geological Survey)
Minor Washington earthquake felt in Sidney, Victoria

U.S. seismologists report 2.5-magnitude quake late Friday

Victoria Police Chief Del Manak called changes to the More Justice, More Peace mural “offensive” in a statement Oct. 30. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Victoria police chief calls new changes to downtown mural ‘offensive’

‘ACAB’ replaced with a note accusing the City, VicPD of silencing BIPOC

Oak Bay Police. (Black Press File Photo)
Oak Bay police still awesome, residents say

2020 community policing survey results released

Paul Nestman’s Exemplary Service Award, which will be presented to him on Oct. 27 by Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin during a virtual ceremony. (Provided by Tammy Robinson)
‘Trust your team’: Victoria man receives Exemplary Service Award from Coast Guard

Paul Nestman, along with 36 others, receive awards during virtual ceremony

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie “The Name of the Rose” at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

Oscar-winner was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Allentown, Pa. on Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
POLL: How closely are you following the U.S. presidential election?

It may feel like it’s been going on forever but the U.S.… Continue reading

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Police service dog Herc helped RCMP locate and arrest suspects in the Ladysmith area on Oct. 23, 2020, related to a stolen vehicle. (Submitted)
RCMP nab prolific property offender in Ladysmith with assist from police dog Herc

Police attempted to stop the vehicle but it fled from the area towards Chemainus.

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Most Read