On Wednesday June 30th the British Columbia Court of Appeal (BCCA) quashed Kaela Mehl’s first degree murder conviction. In September of 2017 Mehl was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with 25 years parole ineligibility.
In December 2020 Nychuk & Co. lawyers, Barry Nychuk & Sharon Fox, represented Mehl before the BCCA. Nychuk and Fox argued that; (1) Mehl received ineffective assistance of counsel at the first trial; and, (2) One of the Jurors was biased, which they made known by gesturing to the gallery throughout the first trial.
In the first trial our client admitted to causing the death of her 18 month old daughter by feeding her a lethal quantity of prescription sleep aid. Throughout the first trial there was evidence brought by a forensic psychiatrist and her treating psychiatrist that she was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the incident and was therefore incapable of knowing her actions were wrong.
On Appeal Nychuk and Fox, pointed out numerous inadequacies in the defence provided by Mehl’s legal counsel including: a failure to adequately prepare her for trial, a failure to make her aware of the implications of trial decisions, and a failure to bring the apparent bias of one of the Jurors to the attention of the Judge. Nychuk and Fox also brought in fresh evidence by way of witnesses and affidavits to show the bias of one of the jurors.
The BCCA concluded that:
On several issues, trial counsel failed to provide reasonable professional assistance. Viewed collectively, the acts and omissions of trial counsel resulted in a trial that was unfair in fact and in appearance. Additionally, if reasonable professional assistance had been given, there is a reasonable probability that the outcome would have been different, as that phrase has been defined in the jurisprudence. Second, the juror engaged in behaviour during the trial which meets the test for a reasonable apprehension of bias. The appearance of trial fairness was undermined by the juror’s conduct. On both grounds of appeal, the appellant was found to have met her onus of establishing that the verdicts were the product of a miscarriage of justice.
The BCCA agreed that our client did not receive a fair trial, the conviction was quashed and it was sent back for a new trial.
Read here the June 30, 2021 Judgment from the Court of Appeal for British Columbia.