A few weeks before Anthony Raine died from a blow to head, the toddler was struck hard in the face by his own father, a witness testified Tuesday.
Adrian Hampshire recounted in court an incident he witnessed in 2017, a few weeks before the little boy was found dead, abandoned outside an Edmonton church.
Hampshire said that spring, he and his girlfriend invited Tasha Mack and Joey Crier, and Crier’s 19-month-old son, to live with them for awhile.
He recalled a day when Anthony was in a playpen and Crier was standing over him. Hampshire said he saw Crier raise his arm toward the ceiling, close his fist and swing.
“He smoked that little boy right across the face,” Hampshire testified in Edmonton Court of Queen’s Bench.
Hampshire said he told Crier he couldn’t treat a child like that, especially one so young.
He said Crier’s response shocked him.
“He said, ‘This is my kid. I’ll raise him the way I want to raise him.’ “
Hampshire said Crier warned him that day not to go to the police or children’s services, threatening to kill him if he told anybody.
Mack and Crier have both been charged with the second-degree murder. The toddler died in April 2017 of blunt force trauma, caused by a blow to the head. The Crown prosecutor admitted he cannot prove who delivered the fatal blow, but said both accused are equally responsible for the little boy’s death.
On the second day of Mack’s murder trial, Hampshire testified that after the boy was struck that day he had “a big, big bump and a bruise on the side of his head.”
If I knew it was that bad, I would have done a lot more.– Adrian Hampshire
During cross-examination, Hampshire admitted that when he was interviewed later he never told police about the punch or Crier’s death threat.
According to a transcript of the police interview, he told the officer that if he had seen something serious, he would have intervened.
“If I knew it was that bad, I would have done a lot more,” he said on the witness stand.
‘He was healthy by the looks of it’
On April 16, 2017, Crier, Mack and Anthony moved out of Hampshire’s townhouse. They stayed that Sunday night with Crier’s sister.
On Monday they took a morning bus to Castle Downs to move in with Mack’s mother, Deborah Srala, and her roommates.
On the first night they slept over, one of the roommates followed Mack to the basement to take a peek at the baby.
Cory Copeland said he pulled back the blanket and saw Anthony’s face.
“He was healthy by the looks of it,” Copeland testified. “He was a pretty chubby little guy. He was pretty much sleeping. He opened his eyes for about 10 seconds. Gave me a smile. Closed his eyes and went back to sleep.”
The next day, Mack and Crier loaded Anthony into his stroller and got ready to leave the townhouse, Srala told court.
The baby was covered up. Srala said all she saw was his foot as they placed him in the stroller.
“Joey said the plan was to leave him [Anthony] with his sister for a couple of days while they looked for a place to live,” Srala testified.
According to an agreed statement of facts, Crier and Mack were spotted at the Castle Downs Transit Centre late on Tuesday morning. They were pushing a stroller, but a blanket completely covered the toddler. A witness spotted them approaching the Good Sheppard Anglican Church.
Either Crier or Mack pulled the toddler out of the stroller and propped his body against the wall of the church, the agreed statement of facts said.
It took three days before someone discovered his body, covered with a blanket.
Only his new blue running shoes poked out the bottom of the blanket.
“Anthony’s eyes were closed, and his head was swollen and dark purple in colour,” the agreed statement of facts said. “He had dried blood around his face and in both of his ears … and indentation marks on his neck.”
Srala said Crier and Mack returned that Tuesday to her townhouse. They had the stroller, but no longer had the toddler.
They told her Anthony was with Crier’s sister and carried on a normal conversation at dinner that night, she said. Srala said nothing seemed unusual, and nothing caused her concern.
“If I did see anything, I can guarantee there would have been something said or done,” Srala testified.
Mack’s medical conditions
During cross-examination, defence lawyer Ajay Juneja asked Srala about Mack’s medical conditions and challenges.
Srala said her 28 year-old daughter has severe ADHD, extreme compulsive disorder, a moderate oppositional defiant disorder, PTSD and borderline Tourette syndrome. She said Mack has an IQ of 79, is unable to work and collects AISH payments.
According to Srala, her daughter struggled with violent outbursts earlier in her life, and a psychiatrist told her Mack functioned as a 16 or 17 year old.
“I think we did a pretty good job,” Srala said. “Since she’s been an adult, she’s been much better.”
The three-week trial resumes Thursday.
Mack is free on bail.