Canoe News

Wednesday, August 15, 2001

Calgary mom remanded on charges

By BILL GRAVELAND-- Canadian Press
Canoe News

Rei Fujii, 23, is shown with her son Dominic Ryu Brown in this undated police handout photo.

CALGARY (CP) -- A Japanese woman facing murder charges in the deaths of her two babies has elected to be tried by judge and jury.

Rie Fujii, 23, had been expected to plead Wednesday on a charge of failing to properly dispose of a body, but that charge was stayed. She is now charged with two counts of second-degree murder and will be back in court Aug. 31 to set a date for a preliminary hearing.

Fujii, dressed in black and shackled at the feet, looked impassively around the courtroom as the charges were read.

Her parents, who had travelled from Japan for the court date, sat quietly alongside an interpreter. Later they fled from reporters without comment.

The body of Fujii's 15-month-old son, Domenic Brown, was found in an empty Calgary apartment in June. Police believe the body of his three-month-old sister, Gemini, was wrapped in a garbage bag and dumped in the Bow River between May 1 and June 5.

Defence lawyer Bob Batting said Fujii was crushed to learn that she was charged with murder.

"My client now faces much more significant jeopardy," he said outside court. "She is distraught and realizes there is a significant possibility that she will be in Calgary for some time."

Fujii, who entered Canada on a visitor's visa that has since expired, has been in custody since Domenic's decomposing body was discovered by a landlord looking to collect the rent.

Neighbours in the building reported hearing a baby cry for days, followed by silence.

Calgary police have not said how Domenic died. After no one came forward to claim his body, about 60 city residents filled a funeral chapel for a service in his memory last month.

Staff Sgt. George Rocks said police have been flooded with phone calls from citizens concerned that Fujii might return to Japan without facing serious charges.

"Well, you may call it public pressure; it was more public support," he said. "They were supporting us 100 per cent in our efforts, and that was very rewarding, and it kept us going."

Rocks said they are also getting regular calls from anglers on the Bow, a world-famous trout fishing river.

"The search has been ongoing. Of course, we have fishermen on the river and they're looking. I myself am a fly fisherman, I go on the river and I'm always looking for a plastic bag. I don't think anybody is going to give up."

The father of the babies, Peter Brown, did not appear in court Wednesday. The couple split up before Gemini's birth and Brown has said Fujii did not allow him to see his children.

Fujii came to Canada in 1997 and briefly attended Mount Royal College. Her parents only learned of their grandchildren's existence after Domenic's death in June.

Prosecutor Pat Yelle told Court of Queen's Bench that police were prepared to lay charges Aug. 3 but held off until Wednesday because Fujii's lawyer had been on vacation.

Batting said he hopes to apply for bail for his client within two weeks.

Fujii was earlier found to be mentally fit to stand trial.

Copyright © 2001, Canoe Limited Partnership.