By Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG – The lawyer for a woman convicted of concealing the remains of six dead infants in a storage locker says her jail sentence was too long and she should be released until her appeal can be heard.
Greg Brodsky told the Manitoba Court of Appeal on Wednesday that Andrea Giesbrecht, 44, should be granted bail because her “sentence was extraordinarily harsh.”
Giesbrecht was sentenced to 8 1/2 years in prison last July.
Crown attorney Jennifer Mann argued that the sentence was reasonable given Giesbrecht’s actions and said the grounds for appeal are frivolous.
Mann acknowledged the case was unprecedented, but pointed out that provincial court Judge Murray Thompson noted during sentencing that Giesbrecht’s moral blameworthiness was extreme.
The infant remains, which medical experts testified were at or near full term, were found by Winnipeg U-Haul employees in 2014 after Giesbrecht failed to keep up with her payments.
Giesbrecht, dressed in grey with her brown hair hanging past her shoulders, sat quietly in a chair behind her lawyers as Brodsky told court that his client should be allowed to return to her home in Winnipeg. He said she would be monitored by probation services and the Elizabeth Fry Society.
He also said there isn’t a concern about another pregnancy because Giesbrecht’s husband had a vasectomy.
Giesbrecht was saving the bodies in plastic bags and containers, not disposing of them, and there’s no proof the babies were born alive, Brodsky said.
Giesbrecht never testified and the trial never heard a motive for her actions.
“She’s not charged with killing the infants and she can’t be sentenced as if she was,” Brodsky argued. “If there’s no homicide here, we don’t need such a severe sentence.”
Mann pointed to evidence at the trial detailing the extreme decomposition of the remains.
“We will never know how they died,” she said.
Brodsky also argued the lower court judge should not have dismissed his motion raising issues about the trial’s delay. The motion was filed two days before Giesbrecht was sentenced.
Court of Appeal Justice Michel Monnin said he has concerns with Giesbrecht’s request to live at home and reserved his decision.
Giesbrecht’s factum, or argument for the appeal, must be submitted to the court by the end of April.