Toronto Star

Apr. 4, 05:32 EDT

Mom of poisoned disabled girl fit for trial

The Toronto Star

MONTREAL (CP) - A woman charged with murder after her handicapped daughter consumed what police called a ''poison cocktail'' has been declared fit to stand trial.

Rachel Capra Craig, 46, underwent a psychiatric evaluation after being charged with first-degree murder in the death of Chelsea Craig, 14, last month.

The woman was ordered during a brief court appearance on Wednesday to return to the Pinel Institute for further psychiatric care.

Craig looked ahead and had no visible emotion as she heard that her next court appearance will be June 11.

Her husband, Jim Craig, was present in the courtroom but displayed no emotion. He did not speak to reporters.

No plea has been entered in the case. One of Craig's lawyers, Marc David, said that is normal procedure on first-degree murder charges and that any plea would be entered only after a preliminary hearing.

Chelsea Craig had a rare brain disorder called Rett's syndrome, which impedes the ability to communicate verbally, control body movements or breathe normally. She was unable to talk or to feed herself.

Police have said she died after consuming a ''poison cocktail'' at the family residence in suburban Pointe-Claire. Her mother is also believed to have taken the concoction.

Prosecutor Helene Morin said the delay until June 11 will allow the Crown enough time to give its evidence to the defence lawyers.

''Mrs. Craig is fit to stand trial, which means she understands the nature of the accusation against her and she can discuss the matter with her lawyer,'' Morin said.

David said earlier Wednesday that Craig has been getting plenty of support from the public.

''Mrs. 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,'' he said.

''The expressions of support are by way of letters, faxes, by e-mail. So it's encouraging for her.''

The case has drawn comparisons with the death of Tracy Latimer. Latimer, 12, suffered from cerebral palsy when she was gassed to death in 1993 as she faced another painful operation. The girl had been unable to walk, talk or feed herself.

Her father, Robert Latimer, a farmer from Wilkie, Sask., was convicted of second-degree murder but maintains he only wanted to stop her suffering.

Latimer will not be eligible for day parole until Dec. 8, 2007.

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