Ex-pastor convicted in drowning of pregnant wife gets bail pending appeal
TORONTO -- A former Toronto pastor was granted bail on Friday, just days after being sentenced to 15 years behind bars in the drowning death of his pregnant wife.
An Ontario Court of Appeal justice agreed to free Philip Grandine while he appeals his manslaughter conviction for the second time, despite objections from the prosecution.
"There is a ground of appeal that clearly surpasses the 'not frivolous' standard, and no appreciable flight risk or public safety concerns, but instead a track record of compliance without incident with release orders," Justice Benjamin Zarnett said in his written decision.
Grandine's wife Karissa Grandine, 29, drowned in the bathtub in October 2011. Evidence was that he had secretly sedated her with lorazepam, better known under the brand name Ativan, which had not been prescribed to her. His wife had discovered Grandine had been having an affair, court heard.
He was initially charged with first-degree murder and convicted of manslaughter in 2014, but won a new trial on appeal. He was again convicted last February and sentenced this week.
In support of bail, Grandine, 33, argued the trial judge had made an error in her instructions to the jury. The instruction, in essence, amounted to letting jurors decide whether Grandine knew his wife had taken the sedative but didn't take steps to ensure her safety.
Grandine maintained there was no evidence Anna Grandine had taken the drug herself.
Zarnett, in his analysis, agreed the former Baptist pastor had at least an arguable case.
"This ground of appeal meets the requirement of general legal plausibility," the justice said. "At this juncture (it) clearly surpasses the 'very low bar' of the 'not frivolous' standard."
Grandine also argued he was out on bail for most of the time since he was first charged, without any problems.
In sentencing Grandine, Superior Court Justice Faye McWatt said the accused had been motivated by greed and ill will toward his wife.
"His behaviour was diabolical and violent," McWatt said. "It was planned and premeditated and took place not just on the night of her death, but days before when he experimented with the lorazepam on her and on himself to see what the effects of the drugs would be."
The prosecution objected to bail on the basis that Grandine's appeal grounds were weak, and that the public interest favoured keeping him behind bars given the serious crime that occurred. Zarnett, however, noted that the prosecution had raised no public safety concerns, as well as Grandine's long stint on bail.
Defence lawyer Michael Lacy welcomed the bail decision.
"Although this is a tragic and difficult case, especially for the loved ones of the deceased, Justice Zarnett carefully considered the relevant legal principles," Lacy said in an email on Friday.
A friend of the victim's family previously lamented Grandine's new appeal.
"It's a sad day for the family. Because they have to relive this horrible thing over again," Cliff McDowell said outside court on Tuesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 10, 2020.