South Surrey mother Lisa Batstone is appealing her second-degree murder conviction and sentence, rendered in connection with the December 2014 smothering death of her eight-year-old daughter Teagan. (File photos)

South Surrey mother Lisa Batstone is appealing her second-degree murder conviction and sentence, rendered in connection with the December 2014 smothering death of her eight-year-old daughter Teagan. (File photos)

Judge who convicted South Surrey mother of murder ‘filled gaps’ in evidence: defence

Lisa Batstone, who killed her daughter in 2014, is appealing her conviction and sentence

Warning: This article contains details that may be disturbing to some readers

The judge who convicted Lisa Batstone of second-degree murder for suffocating her daughter with a plastic bag in December 2014 found that all of the South Surrey mother’s actions and words after the killing support the conclusion that she had intended to cause eight-year-old Teagan’s death that morning.

And that finding, defence counsel Rebecca McConchie submitted in B.C. Court of Appeal Tuesday (March 30), was a mistake.

“It’s hard to see how the judge could have reached this conclusion,” McConchie told Chief Justice Robert Bauman and Justices Mary Saunders and Richard Goepel, regarding the judgment rendered against Batstone by Justice Catherine Murray on March 22, 2019.

“She didn’t explain how or why she came to this exceedingly unusual conclusion.”

READ MORE: South Surrey mother guilty of second-degree murder in death of daughter

Batstone, who killed her daughter in the early morning hours of Dec. 20, 2014, is appealing both her conviction and her sentence. She was charged with second-degree murder after Teagan’s body was found in the trunk of a car in a cul-de-sac off Crescent Road, and following trial, was sentenced to 15 years before she could apply for release.

READ MORE: South Surrey mother appeals murder conviction, sentence

The only issue at trial was whether Batstone had intended to kill her daughter.

Prosecutors contended that evidence made it clear that this was indeed the case. They pointed to the fact that Batstone never called 911, and that she left notes that read, “I’m so sorry” and “you win Gabe, you broke me,” as well as a four-page letter with phrases that included, “I couldn’t imagine leaving here and leaving her to him.”

Defence counsel had argued that the mother’s level of intoxication at the time she killed Teagan – along with borderline personality traits, significant levels of depression and a “cloud of stressors” – may have limited her ability to gauge the consequences of her actions.

Murray, however, said she was “not convinced” that Batstone’s mental health was the reason for the murder, rather, that “Teagan was the pawn in her mother’s revenge” against Teagan’s father, Gabe Batstone, for the collapse of their marriage.

She found the mother’s actions were “purposeful and goal-driven,” and that “whatever the motive… the only possible inference is that her intent was to end Teagan’s life.”

In the Court of Appeal hearing on Tuesday – held virtually – McConchie said Murray reached her conclusion by filling gaps in the evidence through speculation. Murray determined that Batstone had purposefully chosen a thick plastic bag to use on Teagan, that she watched her daughter die for four to five minutes, and in what order Batstone took the steps that she did following Teagan’s death, McConchie said in citing examples to support her argument.

However, “not only was there no evidence from which the trial judge could have made the findings about the order of events… her findings were actually inconsistent with the evidence that did exist,” McConchie said.

McConchie described Murray’s determination that Batstone’s post-offence conduct led to only one conclusion as “significantly prejudiced.”

Co-counsel Eric Gottardi told the court that his client is alleging “a number of errors which we say were central to the issue of intent.” The trial judge misapprehended important evidence, then relied on her findings of fact to dismiss the appellant’s defences, he said. As well, the judge erred in her approach to evidence of Batstone’s post-offence conduct.

“We say the appellant did not receive a fair trial,” Gottardi said, noting his client was described by many as being a loving and doting parent prior to killing Teagan.

Mark Levitz, representing the Crown, agreed that the judge had misapprehended one piece of evidence – regarding expert testimony around how long it took for Teagan to die – but said it did not go to the core of her reasoning.

Remove that evidence and “her reasons for convicting the appellant would still be on steady ground,” Levitz said.

Levitz disagreed that the trial judge found everything that Batstone did after killing Teagan to be relevant in determining intent.

She focused on emails and letters that Batstone wrote, as well as statements she made to police and medical personnel, that had a “constant” theme of wanting to end Teagan’s suffering, he said. At no point in any of those did Batstone indicate that she didn’t realize smothering her daughter would end her life, he noted.

If somehow Batstone didn’t understand she was killing Teagan, it is “inconceivable” that she didn’t seek help the moment that reality hit, Levitz said.

“It’s reasonable to assume that a loving mother who didn’t intend to cause death would immediately seek help (upon realizing she had). And she never did.”

Levitz said the defence’s evidence “at its highest fell short of raising a reasonable doubt of intent.”

The hearing concluded Tuesday afternoon. The court reserved judgment.



tholmes@peacearchnews.com
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CourtHomicideSurrey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

<a href="Facebook users reported seeing a body on the side of the road this morning." target="_blank"></a>Facebook users reported seeing a body on the side of the road this morning. (File photo)
Man killed in fatal hit-and-run collision between Abbotsford and Chilliwack

Body reported at 6 a.m., police close North Parallel Road, single highway lane as they investigate

Westbound traffic is slow moving on Highway 1 following a crash that has police blocking one lane. Google Maps screenshot taken at 9:07 a.m.
TRAFFIC: Crash on North Parallel Road causes road closure, single westbound Highway 1 lane blocked

Abbotsford Police investigating, roads closed between McDermott and No. 3 Road

Kassandra Clack of Abbotsford has been named one of 18 finalists in the Jim Beam Virtual National Talent Search, taking place in June.
Fraser Valley country singer Kassandra Clack a finalist in national talent search

18 finalists vie to win Jim Beam Virtual National Talent Search in June

Mandeep Grewal was gunned down outside an Abbotsford bank in October 2018. Police said a violent gang war to control drug-line territory was going on at that time. Drug charges have now been announced against seven people. (FILE PHOTO: John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
7 people face 38 charges related to gang drug activity in Abbotsford and Mission

Police say investigation began in 2018 into expansion of Brothers Keepers’ drug line

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

After Bobby Henderson apologized online for his comments to a Toronto reporter, the Langley Rivermen announced that he was no longer team coach and general manager and in fact, had ‘parted ways’ with the franchise in March. (file/Twitter)
Former Langley Rivermen coach and GM apologizes for comments to Toronto reporter

Bobby Henderson blames stress due to the pandemic for his ‘disparaging’ remarks

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 9

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Twenty-nine staff members at Sunrise Poultry Processors Ltd. in Newton have tested positive for the virus, according to an information bulletin from Fraser Health Saturday (May 8). The health authority issued a 10-day closure order, effective May 7. (Image: Google Maps)
29 staff test positive for COVID-19 at Surrey poultry processing plant

Meantime, outbreak over at Surrey Memorial Hospital

Most Read