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Former Toronto pastor loses second appeal in 2011 drowning of pregnant wife

Philip Grandine and his wife Anna are seen in this file photo. Philip Grandine and his wife Anna are seen in this file photo.

A former Toronto pastor has lost an appeal against his conviction for manslaughter in the drowning death of his pregnant wife.

Ontario's Court of Appeal has also dismissed Philip Grandine's appeal of the 15-year prison sentence handed to him in January 2020.

Grandine was granted bail days after being sentenced while he appealed his conviction following his second trial in the case.

His wife, Anna Karissa Grandine, was 20 weeks pregnant when she drowned in the couple's bathtub in 2011.

Tests later revealed the 29-year-old woman had lorazepam, a sedative better known under the brand name Ativan, in her blood despite not having been prescribed it. Court heard she had discovered her husband had been having an affair.

Philip Grandine was initially charged with first-degree murder and convicted of manslaughter in 2014, but won a new trial on his first appeal. He was again convicted in February 2019 and launched another appeal after being sentenced.

The Court of Appeal dismissed Grandine's conviction and sentence appeals in a ruling released Monday.

In his second appeal, Grandine had raised three grounds against his conviction.

He argued the trial judge had made an error in part of her instructions to the jury related to whether he knew his wife had taken the sedative but didn't take steps to ensure her safety.

He also argued that the pre-trial motion judge made an error in refusing to exclude evidence of computer searches including the word "autopsy," suggesting it had little value at his retrial and was "prejudicial."

Grandine further argued that the trial judge gave the jury "inadequate instruction" for using out-of-court statements he made after the event, if they found such statements to have been lies.

In appealing his sentence, the former pastor argued, among other things, that the trial judge made an error in sentencing him as though he had been convicted of murder and that the sentence was "harsh and excessive."

The Court of Appeal rejected Grandine's arguments and wrote that there is "no basis to interfere with the sentence," which was "fit and reasonable" in all the circumstances.

A few days before her death, Grandine's wife suddenly experienced a number of symptoms she could not explain and had to be taken to the hospital, Grandine's trial had heard. She underwent several tests, but was released because her symptoms faded, court heard.

She drowned in the bathtub a few days later, and investigators later tested her blood samples from the hospital, which were then found to contain Ativan.

In delivering her sentence, Superior Court Justice Faye McWatt had said Grandine was motivated by greed and an ill will towards his wife.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 9, 2022. Top Stories

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