The Victoria jury in Kaela Mehl’s murder trial came to court with a question this morning.
The question comes on the heels of Justice Joyce DeWitt-Van Oosten’s instructions to the jury Tuesday that they apply a four-point test in determining whether Mehl, 34, is guilty of first degree murder, second degree murder or manslaughter in the Sept. 16, 2015 killing of her 18-month-old daughter, Charlotte Cunningham.
“Can we receive further explanation of the definition of ‘deliberate?” Dewitt-Van Oosten said, reading from the jury’s question.
To find Mehl guilty, they must determine: if she caused Charlotte’s death; if she intended to cause Charlotte’s death, or intended to cause bodily harm she knew could have led to her death, and if the killing was both planned and deliberate.
“Planned and deliberate are not the same thing,” Dewitt-Van Oosten said.
“Planned is the result of a calculated scheme of design that has been carefully thought out, and the nature and consequences … have been considered and weighed. Something that is impulsive, even with intent, is not planned.
“Deliberate [means] considered, not impulsive, slow in deciding … other ways to explain it are: carefully thought out, not hasty or rash, cautious,” she said.
Dewitt-Van Oosten noted that an action leading up to the killing can be deliberate — as the act of intentionally mixing the sleeping pill zopiclone into yogurt is deliberate — but this is not the same as the act of deliberate murder.
In her closing arguments yesterday, Crown lawyer Kimberly Henders Miller argued that Mehl planned to kill Charlotte late on Sept. 15, 2015. Despite the short time frame, a plan was created nonetheless, she said.
Henders Miller argued that Mehl was self-aware, goal oriented and purposeful. She pointed to the timing between when she started drafting what would become her suicide note, the wording of the suicide note, and the 12 minutes she spent searching zopiclone overdoses online. Mehl was making choices that night, even if they were not good ones, she said.
The jury continues deliberations today.
Read Victoria News’ coverage of the Kaela Mehl murder trial