Edmonton man found guilty of manslaughter in death of infant son

An Edmonton Court of Queen’s Bench judge has no doubt that Christopher Lamarche caused “catastrophic injuries” to his six-month-old son but was left with a reasonable doubt whether murder was the intent.

Lamarche has been found not guilty of second-degree murder but guilty of manslaughter in the May 2017 death of his infant son.

Jarock Humeniuk was found dead in a bassinet early in the morning on May 28, 2017. 

“Jarock was normal according to all who saw him while he was alive,” Justice Sterling Sanderman said Tuesday morning. “He was fine at 3:30 a.m. He was dead three hours later.” 

An autopsy later revealed the infant suffered multiple injuries, including three broken ribs.

More than a year after Jarock died, Edmonton police launched an undercover operation dubbed Project Hope. 

One year later, on July 4, 2019, Lamarche confessed to Mr. Big — an undercover police officer — that he had killed his son. Using a doll provided by Mr. Big, Lamarche demonstrated the assault that he said lasted up to an hour. 

“The accused admits to choking Jarock,” Crown prosecutor Bonnie Parker said in closing arguments last month. “He admits to bending Jarock in weird positions. He choked Jarock using a sheet so it would not leave marks.” 

In his decision, Sanderman said he found Lamarche’s recounting of the assault to be reliable. 

He appears to exhibit regret and remorse– Justice Sterling Sanderman

“His recall is imprecise and incomplete. It is not false,” Sanderman said. “He attempts to give structure to an act that he finds abhorrent…Even though he has accepted responsibility for his son’s death, he has difficulty providing details as he appears to exhibit regret and remorse.” 

‘The law does not operate on human nature and emotion’

The day after he was arrested, Lamarche told an Edmonton police detective that he was frustrated because he was unable to stop Jarock’s crying, so he snapped, lost his head and attacked the baby in the spur of the moment. 

“In no way does he try to excuse his actions and he agrees what he did was wrong and inexcusable,” Sanderman said. 

“This is the only direct evidence before the court that illuminates Mr. Lamarche’s intent as he attacked Jarock.” 

Christopher Lamarche lived with his parents in this north Edmonton house where six-month old Jarock Humeniuk died in May 2017. (CBC)

The judge explained he did not have to accept Lamarche’s explanation to the detective as the truth, but he said it did raise a reasonable doubt in his mind whether Lamarche intended to kill his son. 

“In a case such as this, because of the extremely sympathetic victim, it’s human nature to want to hold whoever committed the offence to the highest degree of responsibility possible,” Sanderman said. 

“Fortunately, the law does not operate on human nature and emotion.”

Lamarche will remain in custody. On Jan. 20, the Crown and defence will make sentencing submissions. 

Edmonton police were unable to provide a dollar figure for the 13-month undercover operation. 

In a year-end interview, Chief McFee explained why EPS went to such lengths to make an arrest. 

“When there’s some ability where we think we can make a difference, we’re going to use every investigative mechanism available to us to solve these things,” McFee told CBC News. 

“If we can solve the murder of a six-month-old, we need to do everything we can.”

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