A big sigh of relief for an emotionally-drained Sarnia mother on Tuesday after Judge Deborah Austin ended what most would call a three-year nightmare that started with the tragic death of her son and saw her charged for criminal negligence as a result in December 2009. The judge decided that the evidence against Monica Holmes-Veitch did not warrant her standing trial in her son's death.
Homes-Veitch, 49, was charged with criminal negligence and failing to provide the necessities of life after her 16-year old son, Joshua Holmes, died of a drug overdose at the family home in November 2009.
"Numerous hearings spread over two years have been horrible for the woman, leaving her no opportunity to grieve her son's death," her defense lawyer David Stoesser is quoted as saying after the decision in his client's favor.
The teen was taken to hospital on Nov. 3, 2009, after a call to 911, with no vital signs, and a doctor testified during the hearings, "it appeared he hadn’t been breathing for some time."
At the hospital, he was placed on life support, but the effect of the overdose was too advanced, Austin said in her ruling.
Once a drug overdose was determined as the teen's official cause of death 8 days after the incident, that element of the case was never disputed.
The court heard the teen had been awake all night at the computer and was sleeping on the floor during the day. In an interview with local police, Holmes-Veitch said it was "typical behavior for her son."
Police told her during the interview that the issue was how long she’d known her son was unresponsive before she called 911.
Austin said a jury would have to find her actions were a "marked departure from reasonable behavior" in order to warrant a trial.
In the time before 911 was called to the family home, Holmes-Veitch changed her son’s clothes, listened to his chest with a stethoscope and called the hospital to determine if he would be treated without a current health card.
"Those decisions indicated poor judgment, but not a reckless and wanton disregard for her son’s life," Austin said while rendering her decision, adding, "Holmes-Veitch’s serious mistake is something she will have to live with for the rest of her life."
The judge also said that every parent could learn a lesson from the death and the need for immediate action in a drug overdose.
After the decision was handed down, Holmes-Veitch's defense lawyer said that his client was "obviously relieved" the criminal proceeding were over, but added that it was very difficult for her to be reminded of her poor judgment.