TORONTO — Jurors have begun their deliberations at the trial of a former Toronto pastor accused in the drowning death of his pregnant wife nearly eight years ago.
Prosecutors allege Philip Grandine secretly drugged his wife with the sedative lorazepam or offered her the medication so she would be less vigilant while he continued to carry out an affair with her friend.
The Crown says Grandine then failed to protect her from danger by leaving her alone in the house to take a bath while she was incapacitated by the drug, also known under the brand name Ativan.
Anna Karissa Grandine was 29 years old and 20 weeks pregnant when she was found in the bathtub of their Toronto home in October 2011.
Her husband has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and the defence has argued Anna Grandine either died by accident or took her own life.
Jurors heard Philip Grandine was already tried in connection with his wife’s death but were not told the outcome of the previous trial, nor the reason for the new one.
Those details can be revealed now that deliberations are underway.
In the first trial, Grandine was charged with first-degree murder, accused of drugging his wife and either actively drowning her or letting her drown in the bathtub.
He was convicted of manslaughter, which means jurors did not believe he intended to kill his wife the night she drowned.
The trial judge found, however, that Grandine did drug her, which affected her ability to protect herself from harm.
The former pastor was sentenced to 15 years behind bars.
A new trial was ordered on appeal, however, after Ontario’s highest court found the trial judge had made mistakes in his instructions to the jury.
In answering a question from jurors, the trial judge introduced a new theory that could lead to conviction — one that was inconsistent with how the case had proceeded, the appeal court found.
Since the Crown did not appeal the acquittal on the murder charge, the appeal court deemed that Grandine should be tried again on manslaughter.
As a result, in arguing the second trial, prosecutors could not allege Grandine intended to kill his wife nor present any evidence to that effect.
Grandine did not testify in either trial. Both times, the defence argued Anna Grandine took the drug herself and either drowned accidentally or committed suicide.
In the second trial, defence attorney Amit Thakore sought to have the case dismissed through what is known as a directed verdict application, arguing no reasonable jury, if properly instructed, could return a guilty verdict.
In his application, made in the absence of the jury, Thakore argued there was no evidence to support the Crown’s allegations that Philip Grandine obtained lorazepam through his work or by purchasing it, nor that he secretly drugged his wife.
Thakore further argued that the duty of care to a spouse has not been defined to include preventing an able-bodied adult woman from taking a bath.
The Crown argued, meanwhile, that there is evidence Anna Grandine did not take the drug herself but that she had it in her system and her husband had access to it. That evidence has a “cumulative effect,” prosecutors said.
Justice Faye McWatt dismissed the directed verdict application.
Court heard Grandine stepped down as pastor after it came to light that he was having an affair with a parishioner, who was also his wife’s friend.
The couple decided to try marriage counselling, with the conditions that Grandine had to end the affair and stop viewing pornography, court heard. However, the affair continued and Anna Grandine grew suspicious, jurors heard.
Three days before her death, Anna Grandine was taken to hospital after experiencing dizziness, fatigue and other symptoms, court heard. Her mother testified that Anna Grandine asked whether her husband had given her a pill, a question that surprised him and he denied.
An analysis of the couple’s shared computer found searches related to lorazepam and how much is considered a fatal dose.
Police could not say conclusively who conducted those searches, but prosecutors allege it was Philip Grandine and the defence argues it was his wife.
Lorazepam can cause side effects including drowsiness and reduced motor control, court heard. It had not been prescribed to Anna Grandine, court heard.
On the night she died, Philip Grandine said he was going for a run and used that time to call his mistress, court heard. He told police he found his wife unresponsive in the tub when he got back.