Woman fought with husband before sons killed
Published Monday, March 12, 2012 7:24PM EDT
An Alberta woman charged with drowning her two boys fought with her estranged husband in the weeks before her sons died, her trial has heard.
Allyson McConnell, 33, had split with her husband, Curtis McConnell, and wanted to take the little boys back to her native Australia, Crown attorney Gordon Hatch said in his opening statement at the McConell's trial in Wetaskiwin, Alta., south of Edmonton.
McConnell has admitted in court documents to killing the two boys, but has pleaded not guilty to two counts of second-degree murder. Defence counsel Peter Royal said his client suffers from severe depression.
"It's going to come down to intent," Hatch told the court.
McConnell looked pale and gaunt as she sat in the prisoner's box, her appearance vastly different from the smiling wife and mother seen in family photos.
McConnell is accused of drowning 2-1/2-year-old Connor and 10-month-old Jayden in the bathtub of her Millet home, south of Edmonton two years ago.
According to an agreed set of facts submitted Monday in court, McConnell drowned the children on Feb. 1, 2010.
She then drove to Edmonton, ordered lunch at a hotel, became upset and left and then threw herself off a bridge onto a busy highway. McConnell broke both of her legs, her pelvis and collarbone in the fall. She remains on a suicide watch at Alberta Hospital in Edmonton.
Her husband discovered the boys' bodies in the bathtub later that day.
In his opening statement, Hatch said the trial will focus on intent. Prosecutors
will show that McConnell was upset that her marriage had collapsed, court heard.
She wanted to take the boys back to Australia but her husband opposed the plan.
The couple married in 2007 in Australia, the court heard, and bought a home in Millet a year later. Curtis McConnell worked at a hardware store and his wife did accounting for an oil company.
Within a year, the marriage was crumbling and Curtis McConnell moved out. Family court records show he had taken the children's passports for safekeeping.
A family court judge also ordered the children be kept in Alberta until custody could be settled.
On Feb. 1, 2010, police called Curtis McConnell to tell him his wife was in the hospital after jumping off a bridge.
He rushed to the family's home to check on his children, broke into a locked bathroom and found their bodies floating in the tub.
Officers later found a rope in her Millet basement which was tied to the rafters.
McConnell's mother and sister travelled from Australia to attend the trial, but McConnell barely looked at them sitting in the courtroom.
Hatch told the court that the McConnell boys were last seen in public a few days before their mother jumped from the bridge. McConnell had taken the boys swimming with a neighbour and her children. Later that night, she gave the woman some of their belongings: a child's car seat, some clothing, computers and cameras.
RCMP Sgt. Dan Gyonyor testified that officers later found evidence in the home of past suicide attempts: in another bathroom, police found a plugged-in hair dryer and hair iron lying in a tub full of water; there were also empty liquor bottles, pill bottles and a suitcase in the room.
In the basement, a red nylon rope was tied to a rafter. A chair with dusty footprints was sitting underneath it.
A judge previously ruled that McConnell was fit to stand trial. Her psychiatrist is to be called to testify about her mental state at the time of the killings.
With a report from Canadian Press