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

Members of the Okanagan Screen Arts Society received a cheque for $1,500 Thursday, April 15, 2021. The funds are to help the society’s efforts as they prepare take over operation of the Vernon Towne Cinema at the end of July. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Vernon dealership gives Towne Cinema a lift

Vernon Watkin Motor Ford, in business for more than 100 years, donated to the theatre with nearly as long a history

Interior Health’s overdose prevention site in Vernon is saving lives. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Vernon’s controversial overdose prevention site saving lives

Site sees fewer problems than expected, but some still want it moved

Vernon Jubilee Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared over at Vernon Jubilee Hospital

The outbreak affected four staff, 10 patients and led to three deaths in just over two weeks

Black Crow Cannabis is just one of Vernon's many pot shops now open in town. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Kelowna has highest cannabis fees in Okanagan

Vernon’s 14 stores pay second highest business licence fees

Vernon Girl Guide Mabel Smith sells cookies to staff at Watkin Motors Ford prior to the suspension of sales. (Facebook Photo)
Vernon Ford dealership shines with diamond award, again

Watkin Motors earns Ford of Canada president’s award for superior customer service

Flow Academy is located at 1511 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here’s a quick roundup of the stories that made headlines across the Okanagan, from April 11 to 16

Penticton bylaw officers tore down a “pretty significantly sized” homeless camp underneath the bridge near Riverside Drive Friday, April 16 morning. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton bylaw tears down ‘significantly sized’ homeless camp under bridge

Many residents had made complaints about the camp before it was torn down

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

The towns of Osoyoos and Oliver and the Osoyoos Indian Band are beginning to look into the feasibility of a regional aquatic centre. (Metro Creative Graphics)
South Okanagan leaders team up to get ball rolling on regional aquatic centre

Oliver and Osoyoos have long expressed desire for a year-round indoor aquatic centre

Most Read