POLITICS

Defence lawyer wants autopsies on Winnipeg storage-locker babies monitored

10/23/2014 12:01 EDT | Updated 12/23/2014 05:59 EST
WINNIPEG - A woman accused of concealing the bodies of six babies in a storage locker has made her first appearance in court where her lawyer asked that the autopsies by monitored.

Andrea Giesbrecht, 40, appeared via video link Thursday from the jail where she has been held since her arrest earlier this week. Dressed in a plain grey shirt, Giesbrecht did not speak during the hearing. She yawned on a couple of occasions, but paid attention throughout.

Giesbrecht is accused of hiding the bodies inside the storage locker in an industrial area west of downtown Winnipeg. Police have said it may take months to determine who the infants were, how they died, how long they had been in the storage unit and whether they had been carried to term.

Because of the complexity of the autopsies, defence lawyer Greg Brodsky is asking for an independent pathologist to monitor them as they are done by a medical examiner.

"It's appropriate that we take special care," Brodsky told court.

"I don't think it's fair, in an adversarial process, that the Crown gets to control the evidence."

Provincial court judge Fred Sandhu told Brodsky that his initial reaction was that an autopsy is not adversarial, but part of the investigation in any case. He invited Brodsky to file a formal motion or reach an agreement with the Crown.

Brodsky talked with a Crown attorney briefly Thursday, but said more discussions were needed.

Giesbrecht has not entered a plea to six charges of concealing a body and one count of breaching probation. A bail hearing was scheduled for Nov. 12.

Court records indicate that Giesbrecht, who has also used the name Andrea Naworynski, is a gambling addict with a low-paying job at a fast-food restaurant.

She was given a suspended sentence and two years probation at a court hearing three weeks ago after pleading guilty to fraud for borrowing money from a 73-year-old neighbour and repaying her with bounced cheques.

Her lawyer at that hearing, Alan Libman, told the court Giesbrecht's parents were long-time gamblers who had "gambled away all their savings" before they died, leaving taxes unpaid on the house that Giesbrecht now lives in.