Alberta mom says she can't recall drowning sons
Published Monday, March 19, 2012 10:00PM EDT
An Alberta mother accused of drowning her two young children two years ago says she has no recollection of the incident.
Allyson McConnell gave the testimony on Monday, as she took the stand in her own defence in Wetaskiwin, Alta.
In an agreed statement of facts, McConnell has admitted to drowning the two boys -- Connor, 2, and 10-month-old Jayden -- in a bathtub in the family's home south of Edmonton.
Still, she has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the case.
Over the course of the trial, her defence lawyer will focus on McConnell's state of mind during the incident.
The court heard Monday that McConnell recalls taking her sons swimming on the day of their death. She also remembered getting the boys ready for bed.
But she also began drinking and taking pills that day, and has only vague recollections of later driving into Edmonton and jumping from an overpass in unsuccessful suicide attempt, court heard.
"It's something I keep trying to figure out. The more I think of it, the more confused I get," said the 33-year-old.
According to testimony, McConnell learned of her sons' death several days later, when she was in hospital recovering from her injuries. Months later, she had a dream in which Connor was lying in the bottom of a tub, calling for her.
On the stand Monday, McConnell told the court that she has struggled with depression throughout her life. She also told the court that she has tried to commit suicide several times.
"I've done that reasonably often throughout the years. I'd be writing a list of ways I could kill myself in the shower," she said.
"I didn't feel that my life was worth living."
Court heard Monday that McConnell was not receiving therapy and was taking sleeping pills.
But the Crown is arguing that since McConnell was able to plan out her suicide, she was also able to plan the deaths of her two young boys.
Prosecutors allege that she had been planning the killings for weeks. One piece of evidence from the Crown alleges that she searched the Internet for information on how long it takes to drown, and to die from strangulation.
McConnell and her husband were going through an acrimonious divorce when the children died.
Ex-husband Curtis McConnell has said his former wife "possessed a lot of hate and anger" toward him. He has also said that she left her wedding ring on the bathroom toilet, so he would find it, along with the dead children.
During testimony, he wept in court as his former wife was on the stand.
Still, during cross-examination, McConnell agreed that her former husband's family had been supportive and brought her groceries after the split.
In other testimony, McConnell appeared pale and thin, and she recalled her childhood growing up in Australia, where she was abused by her father. The sexual abuse led to McConnell becoming pregnant when she was 15.
Court heard that she miscarried and tried to kill herself. She again tried to end her life at 18.
Later, when she moved to Canada, McConnell said her troubled childhood impacted her life as an adult, and despite marrying and having two children, she continued to battle personal demons.
McConnell met her husband on a trip to Canada, but the marriage only lasted for three years before it broke down. She didn't seek treatment after the marriage fell apart.
The trial continues.
With a report from CTV's Alberta Bureau Chief Janet Dirks