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April 5, 2001

Woman accused of killing daughter fit to stand trial

Montreal mother of disabled teen buoyed by public support

Graeme Hamilton
National Post

Paul Chiasson, The Canadian Press
James Craig outside court.

MONTREAL - The woman accused of first-degree murder in the death of her disabled 14-year-old daughter last month has been encouraged by messages of support from both friends and strangers, her lawyer said yesterday.

A court heard that Rachel Capra Craig, who is accused of poisoning her daughter, Chelsea, with a mix of medications, has been found fit to stand trial following a psychiatric assessment. She will continue to receive treatment at a Montreal psychiatric hospital while awaiting her next court appearance on June 11.

Marc David, her lawyer, told reporters outside court that compassionate letters, faxes and e-mails have been coming in since Ms. Craig was charged on March 20.

"Ms. Craig wishes to express her gratitude to her husband, to her family and to her friends, as well as to the public, for the show of support she is receiving during this ordeal," Mr. David said. "It's encouraging for her."

He said some of the messages have come from parents of disabled children who say they understand what she went through.

Ms. Craig, 46, appeared briefly in court, wearing a blue raincoat over a pink sweater. She seemed more composed than during her previous appearance. Her husband, James Craig, attended but made no comment as he left.

Mr. David said Mr. Craig supports his wife. "He has been in court for both appearances. You can deduce what you want," he said.

It was Mr. Craig who discovered Chelsea's body on her bed when he come home from work on March 19. His wife was semi-conscious after ingesting some of the same medication she is alleged to have fed her daughter.

Chelsea suffered from Rett Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that strikes girls almost exclusively. She could walk, but was unable to talk or control her movements. She required constant care, was unable to feed herself and had to wear diapers.

At her funeral, Mr. Craig offered an emotional apology: "Chelsea, we tried to be the kind of parents you needed. In the end, we failed. We're sorry, we're so sorry."

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