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Trial of mother charged with murder of toddler begins

Court hears from emergency responders in first day.

REGINA – The first day of a trial into the death of an 18-month-old boy began in Regina Court of King’s Bench today.

Chelsea Rae Whitby - the child’s mother - was originally charged with manslaughter, but that charge was upgraded to second-degree murder of Emerson William Bryan Whitby back in 2021. The Court heard testimony from seven witnesses on the first day, made up mainly of police, firefighters, and EMS staff that responded to the 911 call placed on June 10, 2020.

Crown attorney Adam Breker began the day with an opening statement, followed by a statements of facts in the case.

Court heard that on June 10, 2020, emergency crews were called to an apartment on the 3200 block of East Arens Road. That call was placed at 10:18 a.m., and was played during proceedings.

Whitby, who was visibly emotional through much of the morning’s testimony and clutching a teddy bear, could be heard shouting “oh my god, he’s like blue” during the call as an operator guided herself and live-in partner - Taylor Stewart - through CPR procedures.

Court also heard testimony from first responders who attended the call that day, beginning with  Spencer Larocque, who was working at nearby Fire Hall No. 5 that morning. He noted that himself and three other firefighters were toned out for the call, arriving within two minutes.

Larocque described arriving at the apartment, and seeing Stewart engaged in CPR on young Emerson. Larocque and his partner took over resuscitation efforts until EMS arrived, continuing chest compressions and providing air through a bag valve mask.

When asked by Breker, and shown images of Emerson in hospital, Larocque confirmed noticing bruises on the young boy’s face and shoulder before performing CPR.

Sarah Erickson, an advance care paramedic, also made mention of bruises on Emerson’s body

“When I walked up to the patient, the very first thing I noticed was that he had a lot of bruising,” she said.

Another account spoke of a detailed pattern in a portion of the bruised tissue, from Cst. Jessica McBride of the RPS. She recalled the bruising around Emerson’s eyes appearing as a pattern.

“It looked like several small circles side by side, and one large red one in the middle of his forehead,” McBride said.

EMS took over care at 10:29 a.m., as noted by Darcy McKay, a critical care paramedic who arrived on scene. EMS were able to get the boy’s heart beating again by 10:41 a.m., and he was transported to Regina General Hospital for further treatment. Sadly, it was there that Emerson would be confirmed to be brain dead. An autopsy revealed the cause of death to be the result of a subdural hemorrhage, caused by blunt-force trauma to the boy’s head.

In the weeks leading up to Emerson’s death, his biological father raised concerns about injuries he noticed and advised the Ministry of Social Services of his suspicions. Emerson was taken to live with his maternal grandmother for a week.

In the Crown’s opening statements, Breker pointed to allegations of abuse and injury at the hands of Whitby while Emerson was in her care. The Crown’s theory is that Whitby caused Emerson’s death in an “act of frustration and aggression” in the apartment that morning.

The Court also heard from a witness that saw Stewart in his truck, and arriving at the apartment during the timeframe of the 911 call.

Cindy Fougere was cycling along Arens Road, and noticed the truck as she was riding.

“As I was biking past the parking lot, I heard a girl yelling,” she explained via phone call. “She was carrying a child, running and carrying a child over to the guy I had just seen in the truck.”

Fougere noted that she watched as the woman handed the child to Stewart, turned, and ran back into the apartment.

When asked by Breker as to what happened next, Fougere answered, “the guy continued to just stand there with the child.” She did recall that Stewart lifted the child to his face, assuming that he was about to kiss the boy.

Under cross-examination by defence counsel Darren Kraushaar, Fougere admitted to not being able to hear what the people were taking about, estimating being a quarter of a the length of a football field away from the interaction.

The trial continues tomorrow with many witnesses called throughout the week.

Click for more from Crime, Cops and Court. 


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