Convicted cheating Pastor wins new trial

Toronto Sun:-TORONTO – The cheating pastor convicted of manslaughter in the 2011 drowning of his pregnant wife has won a new trial and the victim’s family is left reeling with shock.

Philip Grandine, originally charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife Karissa, had his manslaughter conviction overturned by the Ontario Court of Appeal.

Karissa’s family was shattered to learn they must now go through another trial.

“It’s horrible,” says Cliff McDowell, a family spokesman and elder at their church. “Everyone’s beside themselves right now. They’re obviously very disappointed in the decision.”

The three-judge panel found the trial judge unfairly introduced an entirely new theory upon which they could convict Grandine when he answered a question from the jury during their deliberations. “It materially compromised trial fairness,” said Justice David Brown in the decision released Friday.

Karissa, 29, was five months pregnant when her husband reported her dead body in their bathtub after he returned to their Scarborough home following a run on Oct. 17, 2011.

An autopsy revealed a high level of lorazepam in her system, the same sedative found in her blood when she went to the emergency room feeling ill three days earlier. According to the Crown’s theory, Grandine drugged his wife and either physically placed her in the tub or encouraged her to take a bath in a plan to kill her and continue his affair with his mistress.

The defence told the jury Karissa had taken the drug herself and either accidentally drowned or committed suicide.

During deliberations, jurors sent a question to Justice Robert Clark: “Is knowledge of Karissa Grandine taking a bath and not stopping her equivalent to causing her to get into the tub (knowing she is under the influence of lorazepam)?”

It appeared jurors wanted to know if Grandine had to be physically involved in putting her into the bathtub or was it enough that he drugged her surreptitiously and then let her take a bath knowing it would prove dangerous. Clark drafted four answers, ultimately answering in a way the jury could still convict Grandine even if he didn’t drug her himself but knew she’d taken the pills.

“The answer to the jury’s question introduced a new, alternative theory of liability without affording (Grandine) an opportunity to respond to it, compromising the fairness of the trial,” Brown wrote.

Originally charged with first-degree murder, Grandine was convicted instead on the lesser charge of manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years. On bail throughout his trial, he was freed again two years ago pending his appeal.

The appeal court ruled Grandine’s new trial should be on the charge of manslaughter alone and not murder.

The cheating pastor convicted of manslaughter in the 2011 drowning of his pregnant wife has won a new trial and the victim’s family is left reeling with shock.

Philip Grandine, originally charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife Karissa, had his manslaughter conviction overturned by the Ontario Court of Appeal.

Karissa’s family was shattered to learn they must now go through another trial.

“It’s horrible,” says Cliff McDowell, a family spokesman and elder at their church. “Everyone’s beside themselves right now. They’re obviously very disappointed in the decision.”

The three-judge panel found the trial judge unfairly introduced an entirely new theory upon which they could convict Grandine when he answered a question from the jury during their deliberations. “It materially compromised trial fairness,” said Justice David Brown in the decision released Friday.

Karissa, 29, was five months pregnant when her husband reported her dead body in their bathtub after he returned to their Scarborough home following a run on Oct. 17, 2011.

An autopsy revealed a high level of lorazepam in her system, the same sedative found in her blood when she went to the emergency room feeling ill three days earlier. According to the Crown’s theory, Grandine drugged his wife and either physically placed her in the tub or encouraged her to take a bath in a plan to kill her and continue his affair with his mistress.

The defence told the jury Karissa had taken the drug herself and either accidentally drowned or committed suicide.

During deliberations, jurors sent a question to Justice Robert Clark: “Is knowledge of Karissa Grandine taking a bath and not stopping her equivalent to causing her to get into the tub (knowing she is under the influence of lorazepam)?”

It appeared jurors wanted to know if Grandine had to be physically involved in putting her into the bathtub or was it enough that he drugged her surreptitiously and then let her take a bath knowing it would prove dangerous. Clark drafted four answers, ultimately answering in a way the jury could still convict Grandine even if he didn’t drug her himself but knew she’d taken the pills.

“The answer to the jury’s question introduced a new, alternative theory of liability without affording (Grandine) an opportunity to respond to it, compromising the fairness of the trial,” Brown wrote.

Originally charged with first-degree murder, Grandine was convicted instead on the lesser charge of manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years. On bail throughout his trial, he was freed again two years ago pending his appeal.

The appeal court ruled Grandine’s new trial should be on the charge of manslaughter alone and not murder.

“The decision today will be difficult for the family and friends of the deceased to accept,” said Grandine’s appeal lawyer, Michael Lacy. “But it is the legally correct decision because the conviction was tainted by fundamental unfairness.”

Lacy said a new bail application will have to be made to the appeal court. “I have every expectation he will be released on conditions. He is now presumed innocent and was on bail pending his trial and pending his appeal.”

Lacy expects a new trial date will be set “relatively quickly.”

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