By Diana Mehta, The Canadian Press
Toronto: A Crown lawyer is urging a Toronto jury to reach a guilty verdict for a man charged with first-degree murder in the death of his daughter, saying his “reign of terror” over the girl was what killed her.
Everton Biddersingh has pleaded not guilty in the death of 17-year-old Melonie, whose charred body was found in a burning suitcase 21 years ago.
Melonie’s identity remained a mystery for almost 18 years until a tip to police led to her father’s arrest in March 2012.
The trial has heard that Melonie and two brothers came from Jamaica, where they were born, to Canada in 1991 to live with their father and stepmother.
Jurors have heard that Melonie was not sent to school and suffered brutal beatings, food deprivation and gut-wrenching abuse at the hands of her father.
Crown prosecutor Mary Humphrey says Melonie was treated like a slave and was “withering away” before her father’s eyes but he did not stop abusing her.
“His reign of terror over Melonie ultimately resulted in her death,” said Humphrey. “But for his actions and his omissions, Melonie would have been alive today. She would have been 38 years old.”
Biddersingh took away Melonie’s freedom, food, health and her dignity, Humphrey said.
“Everton took away everything from Melonie,” she said. “He took away her will to live.”
After Melonie’s death, Humphrey told the jury, Biddersingh tried to eliminate any evidence his daughter had even existed.
“He stuffed her in a suitcase, he took her to a remote area…he set her on fire,” she said.
The jury has heard that Melonie died on Sept. 1, 1994.