A woman convicted in the death of a 19-month-old boy found outside a church has been granted day parole for six months.
Tasha-Lee Mack and her then-boyfriend Joey Crier were each charged with second-degree murder in the death of Crier’s son, Anthony Joseph Raine.
The toddler’s lifeless body was found outside the Good Shepherd Anglican Church in Edmonton in 2017. Both Mack and Crier and were found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter in two separate trials.
Last year, Mack was sentenced to 8 1/2 years in prison for her role in the child’s death. Her sentence was reduced by a year due to difficult conditions in the remand centre. She also received credit for time served and so had five years left at the time of her sentencing.
In its decision last week, the Parole Board of Canada said Mack has done well in a range of programs and has developed skills necessary for lifestyle changes “that should further mitigate risk.”
“The board is of the opinion that, on day parole, you will not … present an undue risk to society before the expiration according to law of your sentence,” says a parole board document.
“Your release will contribute to the protection of society by facilitating your reintegration into society as a law-abiding citizen.”
Mack’s trial heard that Anthony went from being a chunky, happy boy to “skin and bones” in a matter of months. Court was told he suffered abuse before a fatal blow to his head and his abandonment at the church.
The judge said there was no evidence Mack struck Anthony, but there was “ample evidence” the boy was struck in her presence and she did nothing to stop it.
In a statement to the court, Mack said she couldn’t explain why she did what she did.
“I don’t know why,” she said between sobs. “It was like an out-of-body experience.
“I don’t know why I did it. It’s not me. I love kids.”
The parole board describes Mack’s upbringing as dysfunctional. It says she grew up in poverty and was in the care of child welfare due to drug abuse and her significant behavioural problems, including attention deficit disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and depression.
The board also notes that she stopped using medication for those conditions months before Anthony’s death.
“The totality of these diagnoses has rendered you disabled and unable to work, relying on a government pension,” the parole board wrote.
“You have a history of unhealthy intimate relationships, the last arguably the most dysfunctional.”
The board also wrote that serving time on remand has been difficult for Mack, because she has had to be segregated due to threats and assaults in facilities she was living in.
“There were a few incidents on file, but none that required institutional charges or increased staff intervention.”
The document says Mack requested day parole at another location where she would have the support of family, but that was denied over security concerns because her case received extensive media attention.
She has been granted day parole at a community-based residential facility and faces several conditions, including not consuming alcohol or drugs, continuing her psychiatric treatment and not contacting the victim’s family.
Daniela Germano, The Canadian Press