Victoria woman Kaela Janine Mehl is appealing her conviction in the murder of her 18-month-old daughter with the allegation that one of the jurors in the trial was biased against her. (Lauren Boothby/VICTORIA NEWS)

Victoria mother convicted in baby’s murder seeks new trial, claims juror was biased

Kaela Janine Mehl convicted of murdering 18-month-old daughter in 2017

A Victoria woman convicted in the murder of her 18-month-old daughter is claiming a juror in the murder trial was biased against her.

In October 2017, Kaela Janine Mehl, 37, was found guilty of murdering her daughter, Charlotte Cunningham, and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

On Sept. 16, 2015, Mehl fed her daughter sleeping pills before smothering her. She also attempted to kill herself.

Mehl’s defence that she was not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder was rejected by the 12-person jury, which included four men and eight women.

However, Mehl alleges that throughout the trial one of the jurors made gestures of support or sympathy towards the family of her daughter’s father. Claiming the juror was biased, and her own lawyer ineffective for failing to bring the gestures to the attention of the judge, Mehl is seeking a new trial.

READ ALSO: Kaela Mehl guilty of first degree murder, sentenced to life in prison

Charlotte Cunningham was 18 months old when she was murdered by her mother Kaela Mehl in Victoria, B.C. on Sept. 16, 2015. Mehl was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. (Submitted photo)

The alleged behaviour of the juror was not reflected on the trial’s record but has since been subject to a post-trial investigation that includes the observations of 22 people who would have witnessed the juror’s behaviour. At appeal, the court is expected to hear the observations of those witnesses which include the appellant, trial counsel, sheriffs and spectators seated in the courtroom gallery.

Evidence is also expected to include an affidavit sworn by the juror, who denies making gestures to the gallery.

The Crown applied for a report from the trial judge asking for any and all observations of jurors as well as the nature, timing and frequency of any gestures witnessed, but a three-justice panel dismissed that application, writing that, among other reasons, the inquiry may draw the trial judge into “factual controversy.”

The panel also worried the court would be seen as giving more weight to the trial judge’s interpretation of alleged gestures over other witnesses. They also wrote that if the judge hadn’t observed any gestures, nothing would be gained by seeking the order.

“The parties agree the appeal will likely proceed on the factual premise that, on one or more occasions, the juror gestured to spectators sitting in the gallery in proximity to the father of the deceased infant and his family,” they wrote. “The controversy on appeal will centre on the frequency with which those gestures were made and what they were intended to signal.”

Mehl’s appeal hearing is set for December.

READ ALSO: Jury must determine degree of planning in killing of toddler


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: nina.grossman@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CourtmurderVictoria

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Black Press Media took to the streets of Colwood to find houses decorated for Halloween. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Check out these Colwood homes ready for Halloween

Halloween takes place on Saturday, Oct. 31

Struggling to afford rent, Sylvia Bailey is hoping to trade her love of cooking for some more affordable accommodation. (Photo courtesy of Sylvia Bailey)
Retired Victoria woman looking to cook, clean or garden in exchange for rent

Sylvia Bailey is hoping to use her love for cooking to help afford rent

Victoria police are searching for a suspect after a stabbing Monday night. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police searching for suspect in late-night stabbing

Victim taken to hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries

The drive-through COVID-19 testing facility at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital. (Black Press Media file photo)
Island Health opens COVID-19 testing site at UVic

As with all other sites, an appointment is needed to receive a test

Saanich police issued a 90-day driving ban and a 30-day vehicle impound after an impaired driver was caught at the scene of a collision involving a parked car early on Oct. 27. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Driver fails roadside screening after early morning crash in Saanich

Both cars significantly damaged after driver hits parked car around 5 a.m.

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

The voting station mimicked a real voting station in Nicole Choi’s classroom at Chilliwack middle school on Oct. 22, 2020, where students had to show their ID (student cards), be checked off a list, and mark a secret ballot behind a screen. (Jessica Peters/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. students choose NDP majority in mock election

More than 90,000 youth took part in school-based election process

Crew transport bus at the Trans Mountain pipeline project work site in Burnaby, March 2020. (Trans Mountain)
Check your workplace COVID-19 safety plans, Dr. Henry urges

Masks in public spaces, distance in lunchrooms for winter

B.C.’s Court of Appeal is in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Judgment reserved in Surrey Six slayings appeals

Six men were killed in suite 1505 of the Balmoral Tower in Whalley on Oct. 19, 2007

Kelowna City Hall has been vandalized overnight. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna City Hall hit by anti-pandemic vandalism

Graffiti condemning the virus appears overnight on City Hall

FILE – A woman smokes a marijuana joint at a “Wake and Bake” legalized marijuana event in Toronto on October 17, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
Home nurse visits could play big role in reducing cannabis use, smoking in young mothers

The program, dubbed the BC Healthy Connections Project, involves public health nursing home visits

Candice Woloshyn prepares her flower beds for the next season at her ‘Dirty Girl Flowers’ farm in Merville. Despite the pandemic, Woloshyn was able to sustain her homegrown business as community members opted for regular deliveries of fresh cut flowers. Photo by Binny Paul/ Campbell River Mirror.
Vancouver Island flower farmers were blooming as the pandemic wilted everything else

Floriculturists saw increased subscriptions as fresh flowers became a ‘sight for sore eyes’ during isolation

The ‘new normal’ for hockey parents in Chilliwack and elsewhere in B.C., watching their kids from outside of the arena due to COVID-19 protocols. (Submitted photo)
Chilliwack hockey parents petition to be let back in the arena

Refused access due to pandemic protocols, parents are now applying pressure to loosen the rules

Most Read