A Vancouver jury has convicted a 28-year-old woman of two counts of infanticide in the separate deaths of her two newborn sons, finding her guilty of a lesser crime than second-degree murder.
The jury returned with the verdicts for Sarah Leung on Thursday night, concluding six days of deliberations following a trial that began in February.
Leung’s lawyer, Richard Fowler, said Friday the case remains an “abject tragedy” but that the jury came back with the right decision.
“I think personally it’s an example of our justice system at its absolute best,” he said in an interview.
“It was a tough case, there was a lot of evidence, it was a long trial, difficult legal issues and factual issues to determine and [jury members] were clearly very dedicated to their duty.”
Lawyers will return to B.C. Supreme Court on Monday for sentencing arguments. Fowler said he’s still determining the penalty to request, only noting that consequences for such cases in the past have ranged from probation to a period of incarceration.
Fowler had urged the jury to convict his client of infanticide instead of second-degree murder, saying she was mentally and emotionally in denial of her actions and feared her parents’ disapproval.
Leung was charged with second-degree murder after she delivered the babies into the toilet of her family home and then disposed of them in plastic bags she tossed in the garbage.
She gave birth to her first baby in April 2009 and the second in March 2010, each time cleaning up the blood and hiding the evidence before telling her boyfriend she had miscarried.
Leung’s father found the first baby’s body in a clear plastic bag outside the house and told his son to call police, but the second baby’s body was not discovered because the garbage was picked up and police decided a search of the landfill would be unsuccessful.
Crown lawyer Sandra Cunningham told the jury that the babies’ father knew about the pregnancies and was happy, but that Leung kept their relationship secret from her family.
Each time she delivered the babies, Leung told her boyfriend she’d miscarried and carried on as if nothing had happened, Cunningham said.
In August 2009, police determined from DNA tests that the dead baby found in the garbage belonged to Leung and her boyfriend.
Leung’s mother testified that she didn’t notice anything physically or emotionally different about her daughter before her husband found the baby in the garbage.
Cunningham alleged that in March 2010, when Leung gave birth to her second son, she put the baby inside a plastic bag and held him against her chest to keep him quiet until he stopped moving.
Leung then put the bag inside a trash can outside the house and covered it with a piece of cardboard, Cunningham said.