An appeals court has overturned a British Columbia woman’s conviction for the drowning death of a toddler in her care, saying the initial outcome was “the product of a miscalculation.”
Tammy Bouvette was initially charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty in 2013 to a lesser charge of criminal negligence in the death of 19-month-old Iyanna Teeple in Cranbrook, British Columbia
The toddler was found unconscious and not breathing in the bathtub on May 26, 2011, and was taken to a Calgary hospital, where she later died.
Police and/or the B.C. Attorney’s Office failed to disclose several key pieces of evidence to Bouvette’s lawyers, according to a decision issued Wednesday by the B.C. Court of Appeal.
The ruling noted that it did not represent an official discovery of malice or malice, but that the non-disclosure meant Bouvette was “deprived of the opportunity to make an informed decision about how to defend it.”
The ruling ordered a stay of proceedings, saying it would be “unjust” and an “abuse of process” to reopen her case because she had already served her full sentence.
“She had already been punished for wrongful death. This would amount to punishing the appellant again, since she successfully pleaded guilty and vacated the conviction,” the decision said.
The court also noted that Bouvette, who has a history of drug use, relapsed after being charged, lost custody of her children and was beaten in jail for being deemed a “baby killer”, leading to her isolation.
It also said that “she has struggled with addiction issues, homelessness, poverty, social isolation, and physical and mental health challenges” since her release.
law and justice