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Judge acquits one woman, convicts another in 'shopping cart' murder

Judge acquits one woman, convicts another in ‘shopping cart’ murder

After years of sitting through horrific courtroom details about the way Andrea Marie Berg died, her family said Friday they want people to know she was a kind, happy person who was loved. 

“I do need people to know that Andrea could walk in a room and brighten it up and everybody would be smiling,” her mother Joanne Berg said, speaking outside the courthouse after a judge found Sophie Frenchman, 51, guilty of second-degree murder in Andrea Berg’s death, but acquitted Carrie Jones, 37, of the same charge. 

Two other people earlier admitted to their roles in the brutal attack on the 42-year-old that included beating her, covering her mouth with a bleach-soaked rag and then strangling her with a stereo cord until they believed she was dead. Her body was later thrown from a third-storey window and stuffed into a shopping cart that was abandoned in an alley, where it was discovered by pedestrians on June 16, 2015.

The attack began after Lana Pelletier — who is already serving a life sentence after admitting to second-degree murder in the case — was told Berg was buying drugs from someone other than her, and that she wasn’t sharing information about sexually transmitted infections with her partners.

Pelletier testified during Frenchman and Jones’ trial, as did John Kisil, who court heard threw the victim out the window after being called to help dispose of her body. Kisil is serving a five-year sentence after pleading guilty to accessory after the fact to murder.

Crown prosecutors relied on Pelletier’s evidence that Jones had given Pelletier and Frenchman advice and encouragement on how to carry out the strangulation.

But Court of Queen’s Bench Justice John Little found that Pelletier’s evidence about Jones’ involvement was not reliable, citing the fact that the two women were in a relationship at the time of Berg’s death, and that Pelletier only told police Jones had participated after the women broke up following Pelletier’s incarceration. 

When Little pronounced Jones not guilty, and said that she was free to go, Jones was visibly shocked and relieved — letting out a loud exclamation and crying as proceedings wrapped up. 

Her lawyer, Naeem Rauf, said his client was “ecstatic” about the acquittal. He said Jones has been in jail since her arrest in November 2015, and that her applications for bail had been denied. 

However, the judge did find that Frenchman actively helped Pelletier strangle Berg, and that she was aware of Pelletier’s intention to kill as they carried out the attack.

He rejected Frenchman’s lawyer Rob Wachowich’s argument that testimony from a medical examiner included an admission that it was likely the fall from the window — not the strangulation — that actually ended Berg’s life. Little ruled that was all a continuation of the same event.