There was a celebration in the unexpected rain Saturday as Tammy and Kevin Goforth were led away in handcuffs.
In front of posters adorned with the face of a four-year-old whose life was cut tragically short, a family cheered for the surviving sister, too young to really remember her.
“Ecstatic, we’re so so, so thankful, we are overwhelmed with happiness,” said Maxine Goforth. “We got justice.”
It was the scene on the steps of the Court of Queen’s Bench just 10 minutes after a jury found Tammy Goforth guilty of second-degree murder and her husband Kevin guilty of manslaughter in the death of the four-year-old. Both were found guilty of unlawfully causing bodily harm with respect to the two-year-old.
One woman shouted “thank you Jesus” in the court room while a crowd applauded before Justice Ellen Gunn appealed for quiet.
It has been an emotionally-charged trial. Several members of the public gallery were reminded by Gunn to stay quiet or were removed by sheriffs during the three-week case. Extra security was evident throughout the trial, including the presence of Regina Police Service officers as the jury deliberated.
Court heard medical evidence that the girls were malnourished, dehydrated and covered in bruises when they arrived in hospital on Aug. 1, 2012.
The Goforths maintained they had no intention of causing harm or death.
The jury were shown powerful images of the two girls in hospital. Crown lawyer Kim Jones said, “those spoke volumes”. He described the trial as a difficult one.
“This is definitely the hardest case I have prosecuted. It was an emotional rollercoaster from day one.”
The jury asked just one question during deliberations, seeking clarification on the issue of the “mental element” to prove murder. Crown lawyer Dana Brule believes the intent came down to what the jury believed Tammy should have known would result from her actions.
“When you looked at the images of those emaciated, skin and bone children, you had to have known.”
In her instructions to the six-man, six-woman jury, Gunn gave the option of the lesser charge of manslaughter for the jury to consider. With a break overnight, a brief recess during supper, the jury took just over 24 hours to reach their verdict.
Second-degree murder carries a life sentence, but eligibility for parole can range between 10 and 25 years. The jury declined to have say in that decision-making process.
Speaking outside court, Kevin Goforth’s lawyer Noah Evanchuk described his client as “inconsolable”.
“For somebody who has never committed a criminal offense, had any kind of criminal record, I don’t think you can be prepared for [a guilty verdict].”
Tensions have run so high in court that at times, Evanchuk and his colleague – Tammy’s defence lawyer, Jeff Deagle - have needed a security escort out of the building.
“If we didn’t have defence lawyers and we didn’t have that role, there would be no safe guards for anybody,” Deagle answered, when asked what he thinks of threats made against him.
Sentencing submissions and victim impact statements will be heard on Feb. 12.
The Goforths are now in custody. They left court to the sounds of “I love you” from their family.
New’s Talk Radio’s ongoing coverage of the trial.
Goforth Trial Day 1: Tensions run high in courtroom for murder trial of Tammy and Kevin Goforth
Goforth Trial Day 2: Forensic officers testify in Trial of Tammy and Kevin Goforth
Goforth Trial Day 4: ’Skinny with bruises’: first responders testify about finding girls at Goforth trial
Goforth Trial Day 5: Goforth murder trial hears doctor describe efforts to save 4-year-old girl
Goforth Trial Day 6: Photos of girls’ wounds shown at Goforth trial
Goforth Trial Day 7: Goforth trial hears girls were taped to wall, locked in bedroom
Goforth Trial Day 8: Evidence of being bound: Forensic pathologist testifies at Goforth murder trial
Goforth Trial Day 9: Defence witnesses describe girls’ care in Tammy and Kevin Goforth’s home
Goforth Trial Day 10: Tammy Goforth takes the stand at Regina murder trial
Goforth Trial Day 11: Court hears from Kevin Goforth as Regina murder trial enters 3rd week
Goforth Trial Day 12: Kevin Goforth tells Regina trial he and wife ‘loved’ girls in their care
Goforth Trial Day 13: Crown, defence point to ‘whole picture’ in closing arguments at Goforth trial
Goforth Trial: Jury deliberations to continue Saturday at Goforth murder trial in Regina