Calgary man found guilty of second-degree murder in death of former girlfriend's daughter
A Calgary man who admitted to murdering his former girlfriend but denied killing her daughter has been found guilty of killing the young girl.
Robert Leeming, 37, pleaded guilty on the first day of his trial to the second-degree murder of Jasmine Lovett in 2019 but not guilty in the death of 22-month-old Aliyah Sanderson.
Leeming was convicted of second-degree murder Monday in connection with the death of the little girl.
His lawyer said during closing arguments in November that there's no evidence to prove Leeming was responsible for the girl's death.
Leeming testified he was looking after Aliyah when she fell down some stairs, then he found her limp and unresponsive when he checked on her later.
He said he snapped when Lovett accused him of doing something to her child and struck her several times with a hammer before coming back with a rifle and shooting her in the head.
The bodies of the mother and child were found buried in a shallow grave in Kananaskis Country, west of Calgary, in May 2019 after they went missing weeks earlier.
While reading his 54 page verdict, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Keith Yamauchi said Leeming continuously lied throughout his testimony.
“Mr. Leeming is not a believable witness,” said Yamauchi.
In his decision, Yamauchi said the testimony of medical examiner that indicated a fall ‘could not do that to Aliyah’ weighed heavily on his guilty verdict.
The judge found that Leeming had committed an unlawful act of assault on Sanderson that resulted in her death.
He says beyond a reasonable doubt, Leeming "intended the natural consequences of his actions," knowing the injuries Sanderson sustained would result in her death.
"Mr. Leeming made a decision as to how he would conduct himself," said Crown prosecutor Douglas Taylor following the announcement of the verdict.. "I would agree with you he told quite a few lies."
It was a gut-wrenching experience for the family as they waited for Monday's verdict.
Jodi Sanderson, Aliyah's grandmother, wept in the courtroom as the judge convicted Leeming in the death of her 22-month old granddaughter.
Leeming sat in a grey sweater in court on Monday morning with his head down, showing little emotion.
"His actions and demeanour were nothing but disturbing," said Sanderson.
"At one point, they thought he was falling asleep, so we stopped for a little bit to wake him up which was extremely weird," added Lovett’s mother, Kim Blankert.
For the victims' family, today marks the beginning of a healing journey.
"I actually wanted to get up and hug the judge but I know that would have looked super weird," said Blankert. "We’re pleased that we got justice and relieved that is over."
A sentencing date has not been confirmed. A second-degree murder conviction carries a life sentence but the duration of Leeming's parole exclusion will be determined.
Douglas said the Crown had not yet determined what sentence it would request.
"We're going to process the reasons for decision, have a look at the facts and we'll craft our sentencing position based on that," he said.
"I would say it's safe to say we'll be asking for something in excess of 10 years," added Taylor.
A court date to schedule a sentencing date is set to take place February 11, 2022.
A second-degree murder conviction carries a life sentence but the duration of Leeming's parole exclusion will be determined.
Leeming’s lawyer said during closing arguments in November that there's no evidence to prove Leeming was responsible for the girl's death.
Balfour Der says he and Leeming are both ‘disappointed’ by the verdict.
“We ran a defence and believed that the man had a legitimate defence and that they hadn’t proved his guilt in relation to Aliyah,” said Der to CTV News.
“Credibility is a big part of this case. If he is not believed then that takes away the part of the defence that he spoke to."
Der said the defence is looking at all options.
“We have some things in mind in what we would like to do,” said Der.
“Whether there is an appeal from this or not, time will tell (once) we digest the decision to see if there is anything that lends itself to an appeal.”
With files from The Canadian Press and CTV News' Austin Lee.
Calgary Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Students trapped inside a classroom with a gunman repeatedly called 911 during this week's attack on a Texas elementary school, including one who pleaded, 'Please send the police now,' as nearly 20 officers waited in the hallway for more than 45 minutes, authorities said Friday.
As Johnny Depp's high-profile libel lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard wound down, Heard took her final opportunity on the stand to comment on the hate and backlash she’s endured online during the trial.
A new report says Ottawa, Vancouver and Toronto rank among the top 20 cities around the world when it comes to work-life balance.
Federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino will table new firearms legislation on Monday, according to his colleague Justice Minister David Lametti. In an interview with CTV's Question Period that will air on Sunday, Lametti pointed to the advance notice given to the House of Commons, and confirmed the plan is to see the new bill unveiled shortly after MPs return to the Commons on May 30.
An 11-year-old survivor of the Robb Elementary School massacre in Uvalde, Texas, feared the gunman would come back for her so she smeared herself in her friend's blood and played dead.
For 70 years, Andre Hissink has held a grudge against the Dutch government, but this week, the 102-year-old Second World War veteran’s persistence paid off – the Dutch king granted his wish for a rare dual citizenship.
Canada has tapped into its own strategic stockpile of emergency medical supplies -- stored for a national emergency -- to help Ukraine. It has donated over 375,000 items of medical equipment and medicines from Canada's strategic stockpile since the invasion by Russia began.
Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, more commonly known as 'broken heart syndrome' or stress-induced cardiomyopathy, is an actual medical condition triggered by severe emotional or physical stress and is different from a heart attack.
After a six-week trial in which Johnny Depp and Amber Heard tore into each other over the nasty details of their short marriage, both sides told a jury the exact same thing Friday -- they want their lives back.
A 19-year-old man is in police custody after a shooting near Rogers Place after an Edmonton Oilers viewing party ended Thursday evening.
Ground was officially broken on Edmonton's Valley Line West LRT route on Friday.
The city is looking at ways to get outdoor pools open earlier after feedback from Edmontonians that they’re opening too late in the season.
Vancouver police are investigating a double stabbing they say happened at an apartment building in Kitsilano Friday morning.
Mounties say a suspicious device found on the side of a road in West Kelowna Thursday was, in fact, an explosive.
Multiple drivers ran over a firefighting hose in South Vancouver on Friday, impacting an already tense effort to douse the flames at a two-alarm house fire.
A lawyer for families of victims killed in the Nova Scotia mass shooting says an 18-hour delay in finding five bodies of those murdered is a sign of "deficient" policing.
The RCMP is trying to determine who was driving a car near the scene of a double-homicide in Dieppe, N.B., in September 2019.
'We just want to stay': N.S. family struggling to find affordable home may be forced to leave the province
A Nova Scotia family may be forced to leave the province due to the lack of affordable housing units on the market today.
NEW | B.C. speedboat driver arrested with 650kg of meth 'feared for his family's safety,' he told U.S. investigators
New details are emerging after a 51-year-old Alberta man was arrested aboard a speedboat that U.S. authorities say was carrying 650 kilograms of methamphetamine between Washington state and British Columbia.
DEVELOPING | Mill Bay mall fire closes Trans-Canada Highway lanes
At least one building was destroyed Friday afternoon as firefighters rushed to a large fire at the vacant Pioneer Square Mall in Mill Bay, B.C.
West Shore RCMP are on the lookout for a missing dog that was inside of a truck when it was stolen from the Langford area on Thursday morning.
Police have released a video showing the arrest of two suspects who allegedly stole a Mercedes – the latest in a string of armed vehicle thefts that has prompted police services in the Greater Toronto Area to create a carjacking task force.
Toronto Pearson International is warning travellers and Mississauga residents they may notice unusual activity at the airport this weekend.
New video has emerged showing the moment a tornado touched down in Uxbridge, Ont. over the weekend, ripping the roof off a local brewery.
Canada's highest court has ruled that Alexandre Bissonnette, who murdered six people at the Quebec City mosque in 2017, will be eligible for parole after 25 years.
Hydro-Quebec is still struggling to restore power to tens of thousands of homes left without electricity, six days after deadly storms hit in Quebec and Ontario.
Quebec Premier François Legault may not have expected quite this type of fallout from Bill 96, but he found himself hammered by questions on Thursday -- about Quebec independence.
As of Friday evening, 26,000 Hydro Ottawa customers remain without power in all neighbourhoods of the city.
The principal of a French Catholic high school in Orleans is leaving the school this week, two weeks after students said a dress code enforcement "blitz" left them feeling degraded and humiliated.
Ottawa Public Health is reporting 15 Ottawa residents in hospital because of an active COVID-19 infection on Friday, down from 17 on Thursday.
A man, who was a referee at high school volleyball games in Guelph for more than 30 years, is facing sex assault-related charges.
The Region of Waterloo says there's a high safety risk at a Kitchener encampment and they are working with residents to prepare them for their eventual move.
The Queen Victoria statue in downtown Kitchener is once again clean after it was splashed with red paint earlier this week.
'We will have to deal with the issues': Saskatoon condo residents at odds with city over public washroom plan
Outcry over the planned location of public washrooms caused Tuesday's city council meeting to stretch late into the evening.
A pedestrian injured by a vehicle in Prince Albert has died.
Saskatchewan Roughriders rookie Nelson Lokombo is ready to return to the football field after missing the entire 2021 season with an achilles injury.
Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) has honoured two people from Sudbury for their rescue efforts during last year's rescue at Totten Mine.
A 54-year-old man is facing several charges in Sudbury, including sexual assault, following an investigation triggered by reports someone was trying to traffic a victim under the age of 16.
There’s an increased police presence around four Toronto schools this morning after a 27-year-old man walking the nearby streets with an air rifle was shot dead by police on Thursday.
Winnipeg police are telling people to find an alternate route this afternoon as they are investigating a fatal crash near the St. Boniface Industrial Park.
On May 2, Manitoba shut down Highway 75 due to rising flood waters and nearly four weeks later part of it is opening up again.
Fifty-eight-year-old Vivian Ketchum is set to receive her high school diploma at a graduation ceremony at the University of Winnipeg next month. It is a moment that is decades in the making.
Premiers from western Canada met to discuss healthcare in their first face-to-face meeting in more than two years in Regina on Friday at the 2022 Western Premiers' Conference.
A Regina family facing homelessness will not be evicted from their government-owned rental unit after it was discovered they owed more than $1,000 in back rent.
An alleged mail theft and identity fraud has resulted in more than 100 charges for a 42-year-old Edmonton man, according to the Regina Police Service (RPS).