The judge who acquitted Calgary stepfather Tyler Eugene LaBerge of aggravated assault in connection with his stepdaughter’s life-threatening injuries erred in his assessment of expert testimony, Alberta’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday to order a new trial.
A three-member Alberta Court of Appeal panel agreed with Crown prosecutor Julie Morgan that provincial court Judge Terry Semenuk’s misjudgment of the evidence “had a material impact on the acquittal.”
As a result, the appeals judges said LaBerge would have to be retried in connection with the then four-year-old’s catastrophic injuries he sustained while in LaBerge’s care in March 2018.
Semenuk accepted submissions by defense lawyers Matt Deshaye and Yoav Niv that the child’s multiple injuries, which left her with permanent brain damage, were not intentionally inflicted.
But the appeal judges said Semenuk was wrong in his assessment of child abuse experts called by the Crown.
“During the defense case, the trial judge expressed concern that the Crown’s experts had usurped the role of the trier of fact when they expressed opinions that the totality of the child’s injuries suggested a high probability that they had been inflicted, meaning that they was no accident.” they noted in a written decision.