REGINA — A couple apologized Friday for killing a little girl and abusing her younger sister, but relatives of the children shouted that there would be no forgiveness.
"I didn't mean for it to happen,'' Tammy Goforth sobbed in the courtroom where sentencing submissions were made.
Goforth, who was convicted of second-degree murder, stood in the prisoner's box next to her husband. Kevin Goforth was convicted of manslaughter. Both were found guilty of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
The Goforths asked for forgiveness.
"You never said sorry before,'' the mother of the girls yelled at the pair.
It was an emotionally charged scene as court heard arguments about how much time Tammy and Kevin Goforth should spend in prison.
"You never said sorry before."
The Crown said Tammy Goforth should serve at least 18 to 20 years of her life sentence before being eligible for parole.
"It's hard to imagine how she could be any more culpable when she watched both girls waste away and did nothing,'' said prosecutor Kim Jones.
The girls, who can't be identified because of a publication ban, were placed in the Goforths' Regina home in November 2011.
Shortly before midnight on July 31, 2012, the Goforths brought the four-year-old to hospital. She was taken off life support a couple of days later. An agreed statement of facts said she died of a brain injury after suffering cardiac arrest.
Her two-year-old sister was also hospitalized, but survived.
"It's hard to imagine how she could be any more culpable."
Court heard during the three-week trial that the girls were severely malnourished, dehydrated and covered in bruises and open sores.
"It goes without saying that these are unspeakable acts of cruelty,'' said Jones.
Jones, acknowledging it's a rare sentence for manslaughter, suggested Kevin Goforth should be sentenced to life with no chance of parole for seven years. He may not have had the "requisite intent to commit murder,'' but he did nothing to help the girls, said Jones.
He also suggested eight years for both caregivers on the criminal negligence conviction.
"It goes without saying that these are unspeakable acts of cruelty."
The defence submitted reference letters that they said paint a picture of two people who attended church regularly and were loving parents to three boys. Neither Kevin nor Tammy Goforth have a previous criminal record, the defence pointed out.
Jeff Deagle, who represents Tammy Goforth, said she's shown remorse.
"I think it is completely abundantly clear that the events that led to us being here today have continued to haunt Ms. Goforth and will forever more.''
Deagle said Tammy Goforth should be eligible for parole in 10 years. He suggested a term of three to five years, to be served at the same time as the murder sentence, for criminal negligence.
Lawyer Noah Evanchuk, who represents Kevin Goforth, urged the judge to sentence his client to no more than between 30 months and eight years for manslaughter and on the "low end'' for bodily harm.
Justice Ellen Gunn is expected to make her decision March 4.
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