Victoria woman Kaela Janine Mehl is appealing her conviction in the murder of her 18-month-old daughter with the allegation that one of the jurors in the trial was biased against her. (Lauren Boothby/VICTORIA NEWS)

Victoria woman Kaela Janine Mehl is appealing her conviction in the murder of her 18-month-old daughter with the allegation that one of the jurors in the trial was biased against her. (Lauren Boothby/VICTORIA NEWS)

Victoria mother convicted in baby’s murder seeks new trial, claims juror was biased

Kaela Janine Mehl convicted of murdering 18-month-old daughter in 2017

A Victoria woman convicted in the murder of her 18-month-old daughter is claiming a juror in the murder trial was biased against her.

In October 2017, Kaela Janine Mehl, 37, was found guilty of murdering her daughter, Charlotte Cunningham, and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

On Sept. 16, 2015, Mehl fed her daughter sleeping pills before smothering her. She also attempted to kill herself.

Mehl’s defence that she was not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder was rejected by the 12-person jury, which included four men and eight women.

However, Mehl alleges that throughout the trial one of the jurors made gestures of support or sympathy towards the family of her daughter’s father. Claiming the juror was biased, and her own lawyer ineffective for failing to bring the gestures to the attention of the judge, Mehl is seeking a new trial.

READ ALSO: Kaela Mehl guilty of first degree murder, sentenced to life in prison

Charlotte Cunningham was 18 months old when she was murdered by her mother Kaela Mehl in Victoria, B.C. on Sept. 16, 2015. Mehl was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. (Submitted photo)

The alleged behaviour of the juror was not reflected on the trial’s record but has since been subject to a post-trial investigation that includes the observations of 22 people who would have witnessed the juror’s behaviour. At appeal, the court is expected to hear the observations of those witnesses which include the appellant, trial counsel, sheriffs and spectators seated in the courtroom gallery.

Evidence is also expected to include an affidavit sworn by the juror, who denies making gestures to the gallery.

The Crown applied for a report from the trial judge asking for any and all observations of jurors as well as the nature, timing and frequency of any gestures witnessed, but a three-justice panel dismissed that application, writing that, among other reasons, the inquiry may draw the trial judge into “factual controversy.”

The panel also worried the court would be seen as giving more weight to the trial judge’s interpretation of alleged gestures over other witnesses. They also wrote that if the judge hadn’t observed any gestures, nothing would be gained by seeking the order.

“The parties agree the appeal will likely proceed on the factual premise that, on one or more occasions, the juror gestured to spectators sitting in the gallery in proximity to the father of the deceased infant and his family,” they wrote. “The controversy on appeal will centre on the frequency with which those gestures were made and what they were intended to signal.”

Mehl’s appeal hearing is set for December.

READ ALSO: Jury must determine degree of planning in killing of toddler


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: nina.grossman@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CourtmurderVictoria

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The Alberni Valley’s Emergency Operations Centre is located around the corner and below the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District office. (AV NEWS FILE PHOTO)
Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District tests new mobile alert system

Residents can still sign up for free Voyent Alert! emergency messaging

Crews respond to a structure fire in the 6000 block of Renton Road in Cherry Creek on Saturday, Feb. 27. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Workshop destroyed in Cherry Creek fire

Crews stayed on scene overnight fighting ‘stubborn’ blaze

(NEWS FILE PHOTO)
Tax error in 2020 means lower rate for residents in 2021

Alberni’s taxation for regional library accidently written down twice

Part of a new housing development proposal for the former Alberni District Secondary School site. (SCREENSHOT)
Housing gap widens in Port Alberni

Vancouver Island city suffers from ‘missing middle’ to housing density

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hills using a homemade trip camera. Vancouver Island is home to approximately 800 cougars, which makes up about a quarter of the total population in B.C. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hill using a homemade trip camera. Schroyen presents Animal Signs: The Essence of Animal Communication on Nov. 30. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Declining Vancouver Island cougar populations linked to wolves

Large carnivore specialist says human development still plays biggest role on cougar numbers

Most Read