Winnipeg woman arrested for hiding remains of 6 babies



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The Manitoba Court of Appeal is hearing the arguments on Wednesday that it should reject the conviction of a Winnipeg woman found guilty of hiding the remains of six children in a closet.

Andrea Giesbrecht was sentenced to 8 ½ years in jail in July 2017. Over time, Giesbrecht, 44, is expected to spend six years and five months in prison.

His lawyer, Greg Brodsky, said on Tuesday that he plans to file 41 pleas to appeal both the conviction and the consecutive sentence, which he calls "harsh and excessive."

Giesbrecht's appeal to a panel of judges is set to begin at 9:30 am on the CST in Winnipeg.

CBC began broadcasting the live online audience at 9:30 am.

The six baby remains, which the doctors witnessed were in or near term, were found by officials in a storage depot that Giesbrecht rented in 2014 after she failed to keep up with her payments.

Brodsky argues that Giesbrecht was never granted the presumption of innocence by his trial judge or the police and was sentenced as if the babies were alive at birth.

At what point the babies died and what caused their deaths could not be determined at trial because the remains were decomposed very badly.

"She can not be condemned and sentenced to anything except what she is condemned, and she can not be convicted and sentenced to anything, which is concealing the products of conception, "Brodsky said.

"When giving consecutive sentences [Judge Murray Thompson] They assumed they were born alive, "Brodsky said.

"In Thompson's ruling, the judge explains that to be found guilty of disposing of a child's body, the Crown should only show that the child was probably born alive.

Referring to the birth statistics as well as the forensic analysis presented at the trial, Thompson said he was satisfied that each of the six children would probably be born alive.

In the sentence, Thompson said each of the six children represented six separate offenses and Giesbrecht's moral guilt increased after the first offense. He sentenced her to six months for the first baby, one year for the second and two years for each of the other four babies found, for a total of nine and a half years.

The sentence was later reduced by one year.

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If his conviction is upheld, Brodsky will argue on Wednesday that Giesbrecht should be able to return to the community on probation to resume volunteer work for Winnipeg charities, including the Siloam Mission.

"She does not want to go to jail for what she did," Brodsky said.

"She does not want them to have their lives turned upside-down because of what happens to their mother."

Brodsky said that her client learned from her experience, although she still has and wishes that the remains of the six children are "saved".

"She knows that what she did was looked at with disgust and she should have a doctor and in the future."

Brodsky filed a sentencing appeal in the fall of 2017. He also applied for bail for his client while she expected the appeal hearing to be held but was denied in April 2018.

At the time, Judge Michel Monnin said the case was unprecedented and that "the accused was found guilty of several serious crimes."

In his ruling, provincial court judge Murray Thompson said he was convinced that Giesbrecht was the mother of all six children.

Giesbrecht did not testify during the trial, leaving many questions around unanswered babies.

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