Ex-pastor found guilty of manslaughter in death of pregnant wife
TORONTO — A former Toronto pastor accused of secretly sedating his pregnant wife before she drowned has been found guilty of manslaughter.
Jurors convicted Philip Grandine today after beginning deliberations yesterday.
Prosecutors alleged Grandine drugged his wife with the anti-anxiety medication lorazepam, better known as Ativan, so she wouldn’t be as vigilant while he continued an affair with her friend.
The Crown alleged he then did not prevent Anna Karissa Grandine from getting in a bath in her incapacitated state one night in October 2011.
Anna Grandine was 20 weeks pregnant when she drowned in the tub. Tests later revealed she had lorazepam in her blood despite never being prescribed the drug.
Defence lawyers had argued Anna Grandine took the medication herself and either slipped in the tub, hitting her head and drowning, or took her own life.
In her instructions to the jury, Superior Court Justice Faye McWatt said that in order to return a guilty verdict, jurors must find Philip Grandine’s actions contributed to his wife’s death, even if they were not the only or the main cause.
McWatt said Grandine could be found guilty of manslaughter if the jury believes he either administered the Ativan — a controlled substance under law — to his wife or provided it to her. Both could be considered criminal acts: administering a noxious substance or trafficking a controlled substance, respectively, she said.
Jurors could also find him guilty if they find he committed criminal negligence by failing to protect Anna Grandine from harm knowing she was under the influence of the medication, the judge said.
Prosecutors said Philip Grandine had access to Ativan through his job as a nurse manager at a seniors’ home in Toronto. They also pointed to searches on the couple’s shared computer on how to acquire the drug and what would be considered a fatal dose.
The Crown alleged Grandine was behind the searches, noting some occurred roughly at the same time as searches for escorts and other sex-related topics. Prosecutors also said lorazepam was not one that should be used by pregnant women and Anna Grandine was conscientious about the health of her baby.
The defence argued it was Anna Grandine who looked up lorazepam, suggesting she sought to self-medicate in light of the recent upheaval in her life.
Court heard Philip 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 congregation, to which Anna Grandine belonged, was also told of the affair, court heard.
Another pastor agreed to give them marriage counselling if Philip Grandine stopped cheating and gave up pornography, conditions the couple accepted, court heard.
But Grandine quickly resumed the affair and over time, his wife became suspicious, even challenging him on the issue in an early October counselling session, court heard.
Then, in mid-October, Anna Grandine suddenly experienced dizziness, fatigue and other symptoms, prompting her husband to take her to hospital, court heard. Her sister said Anna Grandine was afraid; her mother testified the 29-year-old asked her husband if he had given her a pill, which he denied.
Three days later, Anna Grandine drowned in the bathtub. Court heard toxicology tests detected Ativan in her system and then checked the samples taken during her hospital visit, where they also found the drug.
An autopsy also found she had a bump on her head that would have occurred around the time of her death, though it alone would not have been fatal, court heard.
Grandine told police he was out for a run and returned to find his wife unresponsive in the bathtub, court heard.
Grandine had previously been tried for first-degree murder in his wife’s death and found guilty of manslaughter. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
The conviction was overturned on appeal after Ontario’s highest court found the trial judge had made an error in answering a question from the jury. A new trial was ordered on the manslaughter charge, which meant prosecutors could no longer argue Grandine intended to kill his wife.
Paola Loriggio , The Canadian Press