A woman who has was found guilty in orchestrating the murder of a 14 year-old is appealing her first-degree murder conviction. Melissa Todorovic, who was 15 at the time, sexually blackmailed her boyfriend into killing Stefanie Rengel outside her house in 2008 on New Year’s Day. Brian Snell, Todorovic’s lawyer, is asking Ontario’s highest court to overturn the adult sentence and have the charge downgraded to a youth one. Both families were at the Ontario Appeal Court to hear the arguments.
Documents filed by Snell argue that Todorovic’s statements to police, in which she admitted to her partial role in the murder, should not have been admitted as evidence. Snell argues that the manner in which the statements were obtained, violated the Youth Criminal Justice Act and should therefore be excluded from the case. In the aftermath of the murder, police had questioned Todorovic and failed to adequately explain to her all of her rights, Snell argues. Snell cited that the failure to explain to her the right not to give a statement and the right to have a lawyer present if she did, violated her rights.
Snell argues that because Todorovic was detained when she told them about her involvement in the murder, police already had grounds to believe she had committed a crime, which would trigger her Youth Criminal Justice Act rights.
Todorovic told police that she was primarily the one responsible for Rengel’s death, and that she had coerced Bagshaw to kill Rengel by sexually blackmailing him. David Bagshaw had stabbed the victim six times. She had admitted to police that on the night of the murder, she had called him 15 minutes after the murder and asked Bagshaw to confirm that Rengel was dead. The incriminating statements of her role in the murder resulted in her arrest.
While Todorovic and Rengel had never met, the younger girl became the target of intense teenage jealousy since she had dated Bagshaw two years earlier and believed that Rengel was spreading rumours about her. Todorovic threatened to break up with Bagshaw and withhold sex if he did not kill Rengel. This poignant point, the Crown argued, clearly highlights her role as the puppet master behind the homicide.
Todorovic was given a maximum sentence as an adult to life in prison with no chance of parole for seven years. A youth sentence could see her serve a total of 10 years, six of those years would be behind bars and the rest would be served in a community supervision arrangement.
Edward Prutschi, a legal analyst and frequent guest on NewsTalk1010, discusses this troubling teen murder and whether justice laws were violated and are there legitimate legal grounds for an appeal and reduced sentence? Mr. Prutschi prefaces the discussion by mentioning how tragic it is for a family to revisit this because a procedure may not have been followed by authorities presiding over the case. Mr. Prutschi mentions that appeals in these situations are common because when someone is convicted of murder, the stakes are so high, as they are facing an automatic life sentence, that an appeal is almost inevitable.
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