TORONTO, Canada, Tuesday March 8, 2016 – A Trinidadian born woman has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years, after being found guilty of the first-degree murder of her disabled daughter.
Cindy Ali was convicted on Sunday, more than five years after her 16-year-old daughter, Cynara, who had cerebral palsy, was killed.
The jury accepted the prosecution’s argument that Ali smothered her daughter with a pillow in February 2011 and then concocted a story about a home invasion to cover up her crime.
But Ali insists she is innocent and her family has indicated the decision will be appealed.
According to defence lawyer Christopher Hicks, Ali loved her daughter and would never have harmed her. They argued that Cynara died either from seizures trigged by a home invasion or from a lung infection.
In her account of what had transpired, Ali said she was home alone with her daughter on the morning of February 19, 2011 when the doorbell rang. She said when she went to the door, two masked men pushed their way in and demanded a package that she knew nothing about.
Ali told the court that one of the men had a gun and took her through the house in search of the package while Cynara remained in the living room with the other man.
The mother said she got away from the armed man at one point and when she ran to the living room, she saw the other intruder with a pillow in his hand standing near Cynara. Ali said her daughter was still, quiet and pale.
She testified that the two men eventually left, saying they had the wrong house, and when she realized Cynara was unresponsive she called 911.
The teen died two days after the incident, after being taken off life support. An autopsy found the cause of death was a brain injury from deprivation of oxygen.
In his closing arguments, prosecutor Rosemarie Juginovic had dismissed Ali’s defence, noting a firefighter’s testimony about seeing no footprints in the snow outside the house and Ali’s unprompted explanation to police for why some drawers and rooms were untouched.
He told the jury that the pathologists also testified they could not rule out smothering and urged them to look at other evidence, such as Cynara’s blood and saliva being found on the pillow.
But defence attorney Hicks argued that no medical evidence was found during the autopsy to suggest Cynara was suffocated with a pillow, and that the cardiac arrest that resulted in her death could have been due to her epilepsy disorder, a lung infection or by a seizure triggered by fear of the robbers, and those possibilities should raise reasonable doubt.
He also insisted that the Ali family viewed Cynara as a blessing, not a burden, and loved her deeply.