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Infants Found In Storage Locker Probably Born Alive: Doctor

Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press 
Published Thursday, April 21, 2016 12:30PM EDT 
Last Updated Thursday, April 21, 2016 2:48PM EDT

WINNIPEG -- At least some of the six infants whose remains were found inside a storage locker in October 2014 would have been born alive, a neonatal expert testified Thursday.

Dr. Michael Narvey told the trial of Andrea Giesbrecht the infants were all at or near full term -- between 34 and 42 weeks -- and having six stillbirths is virtually unheard of.

"I believe that at least some, if not all, of these children, would have been born alive," Narvey testified.

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storage lockers in Winnipeg

Company security staff walk past storage lockers in Winnipeg, on Oct. 21, 2014. (John Woods / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Andrea Giesbrecht

Andrea Giesbrecht, the woman charged with concealing the bodies of six dead infants found in a storage locker, is seen in this undated photo.

"To have six (stillbirths) is extremely improbable."

Giesbrecht, 42, is being tried by judge alone on six charges of concealing the bodies.

Court heard earlier this week that DNA tests linked Giesbrecht and her husband to all six infants, and that Giesbrecht also had 10 legal abortions between 1994 and 2011.

No one has yet been able to say how long the remains were in the storage locker that Giesbrecht had rented.

Under cross-examination, Narvey said medical examiners had been unable to determine the causes of death because of decomposition.

"You cannot say with certainty what the state of the (infants) was at the time of birth," defence lawyer Greg Brodsky said.

"If you only look at the autopsy results, all say 'too great a state of decay'," Narvey replied. "But if you look at ... the probabilities, it is highly, highly improbable."

About six in 1,000 babies in Canada are stillborn, Narvey testified. A mother with one stillborn child has an increased risk of having a second, but it is still very rare -- less than three in 100, he added.

Brodsky has said the trial, which started this week, will probably be lengthy because it will depend a great deal on the testimony of forensic pathologists and forensic anthropologists.

Court has already heard that police officers were called to a Winnipeg U-Haul facility after employees entered a locker to take inventory because the bill hadn't been paid. A police report read out in court said employees smelled a strong odour and saw "squishy bags."

Officers found bodies wrapped in garbage bags and placed in a duffel bag, a tote bag and plastic containers. One body was wrapped in a towel, as well as a garbage bag, and stored in a pail. One officer managed to pry open one container and saw "limbs that belonged to an infant."

The trial will deal with why the remains were kept in the first place, Brodsky said.

Court records indicate that Giesbrecht, who has also gone by the name Andrea Naworynski, is a gambling addict who had a low-paying job at a fast-food restaurant.

She has a history of unrelated fraud charges. Giesbrecht pleaded guilty earlier this year to failing to comply with a probation order and fraud over $5,000. She admitted to defrauding Manitoba's Employment and Income Assistance and going to a casino in defiance of a probation order from a previous fraud conviction.