Manitoba man acquitted in foster child's death

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Manitoba man acquitted in foster child’s death

A Manitoban man who was accused of second-degree murder in the death of his 13 month old son, has been acquitted after the judge had ruled that there was insufficient evidence to convict him. Roderick Blacksmith was a free man after being accused of murdering his 13 month old foster child. Blacksmith’s lawyer, Saul Simmonds, said that the judge agreed with his argument that the Crown had failed to provide sufficient evidence that would help convict his client of second-degree murder.

Cameron Ouskan died on November 12, 2008 after he was rushed to the hospital. The court heard that the baby had arrived to the hospital he was unresponsive and covered in vomit. The autopsy determined that Ouskan’s death was a homicide. Ouskan was in foster care for 10 months before his death and was under the care of an aboriginal-run social service agency. The judge also heard that the infant had unexplained bruises and had suffered a gash on his head days before his death. The Crown intended to show evidence that the boy died from head trauma at the hands of the foster father.

Medical experts will testify about the kind of injuries that Ouskan suffered, including head injuries, and in what time frame they occurred. The timing is critical as Blacksmith worked all day and Cameron was left with a baby sitter including on the day that he died. The babysitter was initially arrested but never formally charged.

Testimony from the foster mother strengthened the defense’s case in which she told the court that her husband was a gentle man who never hurt Cameron or their other children. This trial is coming off the heels of an anticipated report on the death of Phoenix Sinclair, a five year old girl who was killed while in foster care in Manitoba.

Edward Prutschi, NewsTalk 1010 legal analyst and criminal lawyer and partner at Adler Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman, was on the Jerry Agar show to discuss this tragic case. Mr. Prutschi says that in cases like this, forensic evidence, in particular the medical forensics, becomes the strongest and most important piece of evidence. While forensic science has come a long way, Mr. Prutschi reminds us that it is very difficult sometimes for medical examiners and pathologist to separate the cause of one injury from another, and determine which injury definitively caused death. The question that becomes important in this case is which injury caused Cameron’s death, and was the one who perpetrated that injury meaning to harm the infant.

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