Pregnant Woman’s Death Was Accident or Suicide, Husband’s Lawyers Tell Trial

By The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press
February 26, 2019 Updated: March 6, 2019

TORONTO—Lawyers for a former Toronto pastor accused in the drowning of his pregnant wife argued on Feb. 26, that the woman died in a “tragic accident” or took her own life after growing suspicious that her husband was still cheating on her.

Philip Grandine is accused of secretly sedating his wife with anti-anxiety medication or giving her the drug so that she would be less alert while he continued a clandestine affair with her friend.

The Crown alleges he then allowed Anna Karissa Grandine to take a bath on her own while under the influence of the drug, knowing she would be drowsy and vulnerable.

The 29-year-old woman was found dead in the couple’s bathtub in October 2011. She was 20 weeks pregnant at the time.

Toxicology tests later detected lorazepam—a drug she had not been prescribed—in her system as well as in blood samples taken a few days before her death.

Philip Grandine has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and his lawyers argue the prosecution’s allegations are nothing but speculation.

In his closing arguments Tuesday, defence lawyer Amit Thakore said there is no evidence Grandine had the drug lorazepam, much less that he gave it to his wife.

The Crown has said Grandine, who dispensed and disposed of medication as a nurse at a seniors’ home, had access to the drug. He also downloaded a list of all the medications prescribed to residents and patients on his home computer months before his wife’s death, prosecutors said.

But the defence argued no drugs were reported missing, either in the centre’s logs or by residents.

“All tablets were accounted for,” Thakore told jurors. “This is an egregious attempt to get you to engage in speculation.”

Thakore said it was Anna Grandine, not her husband, who researched the drug better known as Ativan online and administered it to herself.

An analysis of the couple’s computer showed someone looked up the effects of various doses of Ativan a week before Anna Grandine died, the court heard.

While the analysis could not determine who was using the computer at that time, Thakore argued that because Anna Grandine’s Facebook account was active at the time, she was the one conducting those searches.

“She’s researching fatal amounts of the drug, not Mr. Grandine,” he said.

There is “substantial evidence” Anna Grandine committed suicide amid the couple’s ongoing marital problems, he said.

A few months before her death, “she learns her husband is having an affair with someone she knows and considers a friend,” Thakore said. The affair is made public when her husband resigns as a pastor, he said.

The pair resolve to work through their differences and start going to marriage counseling, he said. Philip Grandine resumes the affair, however, and in early October, his wife grows suspicious, raising the issue during one of their counseling sessions, he said.

Grandine told police he was out for a run the night of Oct. 17 and found his wife unresponsive in the tub when he returned, the court has heard. His mistress testified that running was a cover that allowed them to contact each other.

A computer filtering program meant to bar Grandine from accessing pornography was uninstalled roughly 40 minutes before he called 911, the court heard. The Crown has argued Grandine was the one who removed it by reporting a lost password and accessing his wife’s email.

The defence, meanwhile, said Grandine wasn’t home and would not have been able to remove the program because he was not the administrator of the account.

Thakore suggested Anna Grandine uninstalled the program because she knew she was about to end her life and did not want to burden her husband with those restrictions after her death. That suggests she was clearheaded and coordinated enough to get to the basement where the computer was kept, he said.

Thakore said it’s also possible she had an accident while taking a bath and died as a result.