WATCH: There was gripping testimony Thursday in the case of a Victoria woman charged in the first-degree murder of her 18-month-old daughter. Police found the toddler’s body in her home on Sept. 16, 2015. The court heard that this emotionally-charged case even affected the forensic psychiatrist interviewing the mother, Kaela Mehl. Mary Griffin reports.
Accompanied by her lawyers, 34-year-old Kaela Mehl left the courthouse on Thursday.
The focus on Thursday’s testimony was the defendant’s mental state prior to her daughter’s death. The court heard testimony from the forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Shabreham Lohrasbe.
Brought in as an expert witness in more than 600 trials, Lohrasbe described the dysfunctional relationships in Mehl’s life played a significant part in how events played out in September 2015.
Mehl has pleaded not guilty to a first-degree murder charge but has admitted to killing 18-month-old Charlotte by feeding her sleeping pills mixed with yogurt before smothering her.
Dr. Lohrasbe testified that the relationship between Mehl and her ex-husband Dan Cunningham was so toxic, they exchanged custody of their daughter, Charlotte, at the Saanich police station.
He told the court that an interview with Mehl was so emotional, she became so distraught that he himself had trouble with his own emotions.
As a result of that four-hour interview, and other evidence, Dr. Lohrasbe diagnosed Mehl with a mental disorder at the time of her daughter’s death.
While listening to Dr. Lohrasbe on the stand, both of Charlotte’s parents broke down and wept.
The psychiatrist described Charlotte’s death as a case of altruistic filicide.
Because of her agitated mental state, Mehl killed her daughter in order to save her. She felt her ex-husband’s family was a threat her child.
The night before her daughter died, Mehl exchanged text messages with her mother and sister-in-law.
She even sent sexual texts to a male friend.
Then she wrote a note to her ex-husband and two others before a failed suicide attempt.
The trial continues Friday and next week.