Mother guilty of second-degree murder in Surrey girl's death
A Surrey woman has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of her eight-year-old daughter.
Lisa Batstone’s daughter Teagan was found dead in the back of a car in South Surrey on Dec. 10, 2014. During the trial, prosecutors told the court the child was smothered, and the defence did not dispute that point.
Teagan’s father Gabe was in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster to hear the decision, along with other family members and supporters. “I’m sad today, and I’ll be sad tomorrow, but we go on knowing that justice was served.” he said.
The Crown had argued Batstone took deliberate actions and intended to cause death, and the act was motivated in part by resentment towards her ex-husband..
Batstone’s lawyers asked the judge to consider a finding of manslaughter instead of second-degree murder. They argued her mental state at the time was unclear and could have been affected by stress, mental disorders as well as consumption of alcohol and prescription drugs.
In her ruling, Justice Catherine Murray told the court how Batstone put a plastic bag over her sleeping child’s mouth and nose at their home and suffocated her. “The killing was deliberate. It involved some choices and decisions. It involved effort,” Murray said.
When asked about the judgement, prosecutor Chris McPherson said, "She certainly made the finding that she meant to kill."
In a videotaped police interview released by the court in February, Batstone told officers with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team she wanted her daughter "to sleep with Jesus." She also referenced Teagan’s father a number of times throughout the two-hour interview.
“I wanted to die and I didn’t wanna abandon her and leave her to him,” Batstone told one of the officers.
In December, Teagan’s father testified about how he had shared custody with Batstone, but said communication with her was challenging and sometimes combative. He told the court how he tried to get temporary custody of Teagan following a suicide attempt by Batstone in 2012, but was unsuccessful.
A second-degree murder conviction carries an automatic life sentence. Parole eligibility is set between a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 25 years.
Outside court, Teagan’s father said he is hoping for the maximum. “She took 70 years, seven decades of Teagan’s life. In a truly just society, you know, she should probably serve 70 years in jail.” he said.
In the meantime, he said he is trying to stay focussed on memories of Teagan’s life, rather than her final moments: “Her smile when she danced, the way she loved her friends, the way that she was just a happy, empathetic loving person, and you have to keep that in you.”
The case returns to court for sentencing on June 12th.
Read details of the judge's decision in tweets from Maria Weisgarber and Sheila Scott in court: