Some infant remains found in Winnipeg locker were full-term: pathologist

Trial of 42-year-old Andrea Giesbrecht resumed after month-long break

WINNIPEG – A pathologist who examined the remains of six infants found in a Winnipeg storage locker says some were so decomposed, they were just bones.

But Raymond Rivera told court most appeared to be full-term births.

“It was a full-term (baby),” Rivera said of “infant No. 1” — the first of the six he examined in October 2014 shortly after they were discovered.

It was also one of the least decomposed.

The trial of 42-year-old Andrea Giesbrecht resumed Monday.

It was adjourned in July to allow her husband Jeremy to seek legal counsel and decide whether he was going to waive his right to not testify about things the couple may have said to each other. He could return to the witness box as early as Tuesday or Wednesday.

Rivera, who has performed around 1,200 autopsies, said placentas and attached umbilical cords were found with most of the remains but some had deteriorated so much it was impossible to determine the gender.

Even infant No. 1, a boy, had decomposed and the brain had liquefied.

“I couldn’t determine the cause of death.”

The same was true of the other five, nor could he determine whether they had lived after birth.

“Decomposition made it impossible to tell.”

The trial has already heard that Giesbrecht was pregnant at least six times and had several legal abortions over the years, as well as a miscarriage. Defence lawyer Greg Brodsky has raised the idea that Giesbrecht may have had a medical issue that prevented her from carrying a baby to term in the years since her last child, now a teenager, was born.

The Crown has yet to suggest a motive for the alleged crime.

The remains were discovered by employees of the storage company after fees went unpaid on the locker where they had been kept.

Rivera said most were in white garbage bags inside various bags and containers. One was in a pail under concrete-like material. Another had been covered in a white powder that halted decomposition but dried out the body and left it rock hard.

He said the gestation age of the remains was determined by measurement and most were close to or at full term — about 40 weeks. All were estimated to be more than 30 weeks.

The third infant he examined was little more than a pile of bones, wrapped in a towel and placed in one of the white garbage bags, which was itself in a maroon duffel bag.

He had to call in an anthropologist to examine the remains because there was nothing to autopsy.

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