Dad to appeal conviction in death of teen found in burning suitcase
Everton Biddersingh is seen in a court sketch in Toronto on Monday, Nov. 2, 2015. (John Mantha / CTV Toronto)
Diana Mehta, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, March 10, 2016 1:59PM EST
TORONTO -- A man found guilty in the death of his horrifically abused teenage daughter, whose charred remains were found in a burning suitcase two decades ago, plans to appeal his conviction at Ontario's highest court.
Everton Biddersingh argues there is still evidence in his case which has not been submitted to court.
The 60-year-old also argues the judge who presided over his trial made an error in allowing the jury that decided the case to consider a suggestion that he starved his daughter.
Biddersingh was found guilty in January of first-degree murder in the death of his 17-year-old daughter Melonie, whose emaciated body was found burned beyond recognition 21 years ago.
He was sentenced in February to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.
In handing down his sentence, Superior Court Justice Al O'Marra called Melonie's life with her father "an unspeakable horror."
In a notice of appeal submitted to the Ontario Court of Appeal, Biddersingh sought to challenge both his conviction and his sentence.
His trial involved weeks of graphic evidence and emotional testimony about the abuse Melonie suffered before she died in Sept. 1994.
The case took years to get to trial because police weren't initially able to identify Melonie's remains until they received a tip that eventually led to Biddersingh's arrest in March 2012.
The trial heard that Melonie and two brothers came to Canada from Jamaica in 1991 to live with their father, hoping for a life that would offer them more opportunities for the future.
Jurors heard that Melonie -- who dreamt of becoming a nurse -- was not sent to school and was treated like a slave.
Court heard the girl suffered brutal beatings, food deprivation and gut-wrenching abuse at the hands of her father, which included being chained to furniture and having her head held down in a flushing toilet.
The Crown maintained Biddersingh drowned or starved his daughter after a period of prolonged abuse, or that the teen died while her father unlawfully confined her in his small Toronto apartment.
After she died, the Crown alleged Biddersingh crammed his daughter into a suitcase, drove her body to a remote area north of Toronto and set it on fire.
Biddersingh then told Melonie's mother, who lived in Jamaica, and other family and friends that the teen had run away from home, the trial heard. He didn't file a missing person's report.
Biddersingh's defence lawyers argued at trial that experts had concluded the teen drowned but no evidence showed it was her father who actually did it.
Expert evidence indicated Melonie had 21 "healing fractures" in her ribs, spine, pelvis, right knee and left ankle that were caused three weeks to six months before her death.
It also indicated that Melonie had inhaled water shortly before her death.
The jury heard the girl weighed only about 50 pounds when she died.