Charlotte Cunningham was 18-month-old when she was murdered by her mother Kaela Mehl in Victoria. Mehl was found guilty of first degree murder and sentence to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. (Submitted photo)                                Charlotte Cunningham was 18-month-old when she was murdered by her mother Kaela Mehl in Victoria. Mehl was found guilty of first degree murder and sentence to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. (Submitted photo)

Charlotte Cunningham was 18-month-old when she was murdered by her mother Kaela Mehl in Victoria. Mehl was found guilty of first degree murder and sentence to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. (Submitted photo) Charlotte Cunningham was 18-month-old when she was murdered by her mother Kaela Mehl in Victoria. Mehl was found guilty of first degree murder and sentence to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. (Submitted photo)

Victoria woman guilty of first degree murder, sentenced to life in prison

Jury rejected not criminally responsible defence in Kaela Mehl’s murder trial

Kaela Janine Mehl, 34, has been found guilty of first degree murder in the Sept. 16, 2015 killing of her 18-month-old daughter, Charlotte Cunningham, and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

Mehl killed her daughter by feeding her the sleeping pill zopiclone mixed in yogurt, then smothered her. She also attempted to kill herself.

The four-man, eight-woman jury refused the Victoria woman’s defence that she was not criminally responsible for her actions on account of a mental disorder (NCR-MD). Justice Joyce DeWitt-Van Oosten previously told the jury they could find Mehl guilty of first degree murder, second degree murder, or manslaughter. The jury returned with the final verdict that afternoon, shortly after receiving instructions from the judge on how to address the NCR-MD defence.

Charlotte’s father, Dan Cunningham, said he was satisfied with the outcome of the trial. Now, he added, he can move forward with his life with his girlfriend Jen Fouracres, who is expecting their child in April 2018.

“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of that little girl,” he said, his body trembling.

Cunningham read a victim impact statement after sentencing in a packed courtroom at the Victoria Law Courts. He said his diamond ring made with Charlotte’s ashes, a star named after his daughter, and photos are all he has left of her. He said he felt it was important the statement be read into the court record so he could read it to Mehl. He said he wanted her to know how much he loved his daughter, even though she may think he does not.

“Charlotte Elizabeth Cunningham was my entire world. You took her from me,” he said in the statement. “I loved her from the moment she was conceived to this day.”

Cunningham also said he hopes similar incidents like this can be avoided by improving the family law system to prevent custody battles from ending badly.

Mehl’s defense lawyers issued a statement following the verdict.

“[The] result can’t bring that little girl back,” it said.

“To the extent this may illuminate some of the difficulties associated with an adversarial family law process, Miss Mehl will take some comfort. Of course we will consider the verdict as well as any further options that may remain open to us.”

lauren.boothby@vicnews.com

Read Victoria News’ coverage of the Kaela Mehl murder trial

Oct. 4: First degree murder conviction requires killing be planned and deliberate

Oct. 3: Jury must determine degree of planning in killing of toddler

Sept 28: Crown challenges psychiatrist as defence wraps in Mehl murder case

Sept: 27: Drafted suicide note revealed Mehl’s mental state: psychiatrist

Sept: 26: Victoria woman hired P.I. during custody battle

Sept. 21: Victoria woman had a mental disorder when she killed daughter: psychiatrist

Sept. 19: First responders describe gruesome Victoria crime scene to jury

Sept. 16: Mehl murder trial: “She was a good mother”

Sept. 14: Emotional day in Kaela Mehl trial as defendant’s suicide email read aloud

Sept. 13: Saanich police cautioned couple night before toddler was found dead

Sept. 12: Victoria mom charged with toddler’s murder weeps listening to recording of daughter crying

kaela mehlmurdermurder trialr v mehlVictoria

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

 

Victoria woman guilty of first degree murder, sentenced to life in prison

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Penticton bylaw services department. (Submitted file photo)
Penticton Mayor tries again for more bylaw officers

Mayor John Vassilaki wants to see bylaw offer seven day a week services with extended hours

The City Park dock in Kelowna was underwater due to rising Okanagan Lake flooding in 2017. (OBWB photo)
Okanagan facing extreme flooding risk

Water board calls for updated Okanagan Lake level management

From left to right, Slackwater Brewing’s assistant brewer Carri Kemp, co-founder Kelsey Peyton & shareholder Lyndi Cruickshank. Slackwater Brewing is releasing their second annual brew for International Women’s Day on March 8. (Submitted)
Slackwater’s female brewmasters are “Making Waves” with their latest beer release

Making Waves is available across B.C. on March 8 in honour of International Women’s Day

Penticton City Hall
Penticton City Hall continues with COVID-19 reduced hours

One year ago, city hall cut its hours in half, now it’s the only municipality left doing so

Penticton Golf and Country Club was in full swing on opening day on March 2. (Monique Tamminga - Western News)
Golf in full swing on opening day at Penticton course

All tee times are booked into the next two weeks at the Penticton Golf and Country Club

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

The restart of the program means seniors can receive affordable meals delivered five days a week Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post.
Princeton Meals of Wheels one year trial will cost $92k

Program restarts, and volunteer drivers are needed

Beginning late Tuesday, anti-pipeline protesters blocked the intersection of Hastings Street and Clark Drive in Vancouver. (Instagram/Braidedwarriors)
Demonstrators block key access to Vancouver port over jail for pipeline protester

They group is protesting a 90-day jail sentence handed to a fellow anti-pipeline protester

Two Vancouver police officers were struck by a car when the driver learned he was being arrested for allegedly using a fraudulent credit card to pay for food. (Vancouver Police Department)
Driver being arrested for alleged food order fraud rams Vancouver police with car

Two officers are in stable condition, suffering with soft tissue injuries following the incident

A discarded blue surgical mask is shown hanging in a bush in Montreal, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
B.C. RMT suspended for not wearing a mask after confirmed by undercover clients

College of Massage Therapists has 5 open files, said suspension necessary to protect public

Kelowna Olympian Malindi Elmore has been honoured locally for her contributions to the sport of running. She is one of five Okanagan athletes who received an athletic excellence award from PacificSport Okanagan, this week. (Contributed/UBC Okanagan)
Okanagan athletes, coaches honoured for achievements during pandemic

Among them, Kelowna’s Malindi Elmore and Jacob Rubuliak named Community Sport Heroes

Most Read