Jury in Campione sisters drowning trial to deliberate for a fifth day

Barrie, Ont.— The Canadian Press


Jurors deciding the case of a Barrie, Ont. woman who drowned her two young daughters appeared to be having difficulty reaching a verdict as they headed into a fifth consecutive day of deliberations on Sunday.

The jurors spent several hours Saturday pondering the fate of Elaine Campione before breaking their silence at the end of the day to ask the judge to clarify his instructions pertaining to evidence about the state of mind of the accused.

But Justice Alfred Stong said he was worried that any further clarification would influence the jury's verdict.

“That's almost answering the question for you, and I can't do that,” he told jurors Saturday evening.

The protracted deliberations appeared to be taking their toll on some jurors. One juror burst into tears on Saturday when the court denied her request to phone her son for his seventh birthday. The defence argued exposure to outside influence could put the case at risk of mistrial.

The defence concedes Ms. Campione, 35, killed her daughters Serena, 3, and Sophia, 19 months.

Her lawyers urged the jury to find her not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder.

The Crown argued Ms. Campione killed the girls so her abusive ex-husband couldn't get custody.

The question jurors asked on Saturday was the second one they asked since taking the case.

On Friday, jury members asked the judge to explain the phrase “morally wrong.”

They were told that to find her not criminally responsible they must believe mental illness rendered Ms. Campione incapable of knowing her actions were morally wrong.

The seven-week trial heard that Ms. Campione spent time in psychiatric wards, attempted suicide, had delusions that people were trying to kill her and steal the girls.