Calgary Sun

Thursday, August 16, 2001

Little emotion

Mom charged with murdering her kids


Rie Fujii showed little outward emotion yesterday as she was formally charged with murdering her two young children.

As her parents watched from the back row of the tiny, packed courtroom, Fujii, 23, stared straight ahead as the charges alleging she killed her babies were read.

Dressed in standard-issue black sweatpants and sweat shirt and wearing leg shackles, the Japanese woman said nothing during her brief provincial court appearance.

She is accused of second-degree murder in the death of her son Domenic Brown, 15 months, and the disappearance of his three-month-old sister, Gemini Brown.

After Fujii was led into court, prosecutor Patricia Yelle said the decision to lay murder charges was not precipitated by the accused's intention to plead guilty to a lesser offence.

Last week, defence counsel Balfour Der, whose partner Bob Batting acts for Fujii, said she would be admitting allegations she abandoned Domenic's lifeless corpse.

It was speculated the lower charge could accelerate Fujii's return to her homeland before the police investigation into Domenic's death and Gemini's disappearance was completed.

"The Calgary Police Service were ready to lay these charges on the date of Aug. 3," Yelle told Judge Robert Dinkel.

"It was only as a courtesy to Mr. Batting that we delayed the laying of these new charges until he was back from holidays," she said.

During the abbreviated proceedings, Fujii's father Hideto and mother Tomoko listened intently, assisted by a Japanese interpreter.

Outside court, they declined comment.

"No speak," Hideto Fujii said, as they left the provincial court building.

Batting said his client was disturbed at the latest turn in her case, which began when she was charged in June with failing to properly dispose of Domenic's body.

That charge was dropped after the murder allegations were formalized.

"She is distraught and realizes there is a significant possibility that she will be in Calgary for some time," said Batting.

He said the fact Gemini's body has not been found doesn't prevent the Crown from proceeding with a murder allegation.

Batting said he likely will seek bail for his client within weeks. A preliminary inquiry date will be set Aug. 31.

Copyright © 2001, Canoe Limited Partnership.