Three days after being sentenced to 15 years in prison for secretly drugging his pregnant wife causing her to drown in a bathtub, Philip Grandine has been released on bail pending appeal for the second time.
Two juries have now convicted Grandine, a former pastor, of manslaughter for killing 29-year-old Karissa Grandine, who was 20 weeks pregnant when she drowned on the night of Oct. 17, 2011. Two judges have sentenced him to 15 years in prison.
Grandine, now 33, has spent much of the past seven years since he was charged on bail, and has just shy of 12 years left to serve after being given credit for a year in custody and being on house arrest.
Earlier this week, Superior Court Justice Faye McWatt found that Grandine had been secretly giving Karissa a sedative, on that is not prescribed to pregnant women, in order to incapacitate her so he could pursue an affair with his mistress and an obsession with pornography. She called his actions “diabolical and violent” and “planned and premeditated.”
Grandine’s first conviction was overturned by the Ontario Court of Appeal due to error in the judge’s answer to a jury question.
A linked issue is the basis for his current appeal of his conviction, which Court of Appeal Justice Benjamin Zarnett has found meets the bar for allowing Grandine’s release pending appeal.
The trial judge allowed the jury to consider three ways by which they could find Grandine guilty of manslaughter. In addition to finding that he drugged her or made the drug available to her, the jury could have found that he was criminally negligent because he failed to stop her from getting into the bath despite knowing she had taken the drug and knowing the serious symptoms it caused in her, including disorientation and fatigue.
Grandine’s lawyer Michael Lacy argued that the trial judge should not have allowed the jury to consider one of those routes — which had been raised by the judge in the first trial — because it lacked a basis in evidence. He noted the trial judge acknowledged in her reasons for sentencing that there was no evidence to support the theory that Karissa could have taken the drug herself and Grandine knew this and failed to stop her getting into the tub.
Zarnett found that the appeal surpasses the “low bar” of not being considered frivolous and “meets the requirement of general legal plausibility.”
The Crown argued that, in the public interest, the seriousness of the crime requires that the sentence be enforced pending appeal. However, Zarnett said that the public interest in this case lies in ensuring the conviction is reviewed and determined to be fair.
The Crown conceded that Grandine is not a danger to the public or a flight risk, and agreed that if released he should be on a bail that amounts to house arrest with his parents as sureties.
“Although this is a tragic and difficult case especially for the loved ones of the deceased, Justice Zarnett carefully considered the relevant legal principles that govern bail pending appeal applications and appropriately applied the relevant legal test,” Grandine’s lawyer Lacy said in an email.
A date for the appeal has not been set.
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Karissa’s family and friends attended the bail hearing on Tuesday hours after the sentencing concluded.
“They have to relive this horrible thing over again. There’s no closure today. There’s no rest for the family today. And this monster gets to play the system again,” said family friend Cliff McDowell after the sentencing.