Ex-Toronto pastor loses second appeal in 2011 over drowning of pregnant wife

TORONTO – A former Toronto pastor has lost an appeal against his involuntary manslaughter conviction in the drowning death of his pregnant wife.

The Ontario Court of Appeal also dismissed Philip Grandine’s appeal of the 15-year prison sentence imposed on him in January 2020.

Grandine was granted bail days after he was sentenced while he appealed his conviction following his second trial in the case.

His wife, Anna Karissa Grandine, was 20 weeks pregnant when she drowned in the couple’s bathtub in 2011.

Tests later revealed that the 29-year-old had lorazepam, a sedative better known under the brand name Ativan, in her blood even though it had not been prescribed for her. The court heard that she had discovered that her husband had been having an affair.

Philip Grandine was initially charged with first-degree murder and convicted of manslaughter in 2014, but won a new trial on his first appeal. He was sentenced again in February 2019 and filed another appeal after being sentenced.

The Court of Appeal dismissed Grandine’s conviction and sentence appeals in a ruling published Monday.

In his second appeal, Grandine raised three grounds against his conviction.

He argued that the trial judge had erred in part of his jury instructions regarding whether he knew his wife had taken the sedative but failed to take steps to ensure her safety.

He also argued that the pretrial motion judge erred in refusing to exclude evidence from computer searches, including the word “autopsy”, suggesting it had little value at his retrial and was “prejudicial”.

Grandine further argued that the trial judge gave the jury “inadequate instructions” to use extrajudicial statements he made after the event, if they found such statements to be lies.

Appealing his sentence, the former pastor argued, among other things, that the investigating judge erred in sentencing him as if he had been convicted of murder and that the sentence was “harsh and excessive.”

The Court of Appeals rejected Grandine’s arguments, writing that “there is no basis to interfere with the sentence,” which was “adequate and reasonable” in all the circumstances.

A few days before her death, Grandine’s wife suddenly experienced a series of symptoms that she could not explain and had to be taken to the hospital, according to Grandine’s judgement. She underwent several tests, but she was released because her symptoms disappeared, the court heard.

He drowned in the bathtub a few days later, and investigators tested his blood samples from the hospital, which were later found to contain Ativan.

In handing down his sentence, Superior Court Judge Faye McWatt said Grandine was motivated by greed and ill will towards his wife.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 9, 2022.


This story was produced with the financial assistance of Meta and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.


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