Mother acquitted of 8 y.o. girl's fatal fall
Helene J. was acquitted of manslaughter in the death of her 8-year-old daughter Sharleyne Remouchamps. There is not enough evidence to prove that the 38-year-old woman was responsible for her daughter's death, the court in Assen ruled on Monday, NU.nl reports.
Sharleyne was found dead in front of the Hoogeveen apartment building where she lived with her mother on June 8th, 2015. It was initially assumed that she had fallen from their 10th floor apartment in an accident, or even jumped herself. But after her father filed an Article 12 procedure, the Public Prosecutor decided to prosecute the girl's mother for manslaughter. J. denies having anything to do with her daughter's death and claims to have suffered a black-out after seeing her body.
According to the court, there is doubt about whether the girl was thrown over the apartment building's railing, it could not be conclusively proven that she was strangled beforehand, and witness statements about that night are unreliable. A forensic doctor said that Sharleyne was strangled based on injuries in her neck. But two experts from the Netherlands Forensic Institute could not say with certainty whether or not this was the case.
J.'s lawyer Paul van Jaarsveld pleaded for acquittal, arguing that an accident or suicide could not be conclusively ruled out. No witnesses saw his client throw Sharleyne from the building. "I am happy with the ruling that the court made. Just as I had already argued, the court also finds that there is no evidence of her guilt", Van Jaarsveld said, according to the newspaper.
The Public Prosecutor considers suicide or an accident unlikely, and considered it convincingly proven that J. first strangled the girl and then threw her over the balustrade. The Prosecutor demanded 10 years in prison against her. The Prosecutor will likely appeal, but first wants to study the ruling extensively.
The lawyer representing Sharleyne's father called it "a very disappointing ruling that does not seem to do justice to the facts, but also not to Sharleyne". He added that the ruling was very briefly motivated.