Crown accuses Toronto mother of lying about mass shooting at ‘Baby Shark’ themed birthday party
A young mother has been warned of legal ‘consequences’ after she repeatedly denied knowing anything about a shooting that broke out at an outdoor birthday party in Rexdale for her one-year-old son, the leaving grazed by a bullet and three others wounded by bullet.
The prosecution’s theory is that the bullets started flying after a verbal confrontation between Joy Leitch’s new boyfriend, Demar Cadogan, and Kevin George, the father of her toddler, Kaiden. The party took place on the lawn of the Leitch family townhouse complex on Tandridge Crescent near Byng Avenue on June 19, 2021 – sparking outrage across the city that such violence could occur during a celebration littered with toddlers and young children.
While many party attendees wore personalized T-shirts – bearing slogans like “Mommy Shark” in homage to the popular children’s song “Baby Shark” – and as dozens of children played amidst balloons and of bouncy castles, George allegedly pulled out a gun and began shooting at Cadogan.
Forensic evidence presented during the week-long trial indicates that six shots were allegedly fired from George’s pistol and one from a weapon allegedly wielded by Cadogan. He is also charged in the shooting but has not yet had a trial. An unidentified man who arrived at the party with George fired his gun 10 times in the direction of Cadogan, prosecutors say.
A five-year-old girl was shot in the head, an 11-year-old boy was shot in the buttocks, Cadogan was hit by bullets in both legs and baby Kaiden was grazed by a bullet. All of the victims have since recovered, although the little girl has sight and hearing problems, the Crown said.
On Monday, Ontario court judge Peter Fraser granted the prosecution’s request to declare Leitch, 20, a hostile witness after the young mother spent the day giving evasive and unanswered answers during a his testimony at the trial of George, who pleaded not guilty to multiple charges of aggravated assault and firearms.
“What can you tell us about who shot your son’s birthday?” asked prosecutor Paul Zambonini, now authorized to cross-examine her. “I don’t know,” she replied without expression or emotion, and at one point poked a pen or pencil into the top bun of her ponytail up to her waist.
“Tell us everything you know about what happened?”
“I know nothing.”
At the end of the day, Zambonini warned Leitch to tell the truth. “There are consequences for lying under oath,” he said, suggesting she talk to a lawyer.
Tuesday, nothing had changed. The veteran Crown prosecutor again pointed to surveillance footage showing Leitch standing between the two men just before they drew their guns. George’s mother – wearing a ‘Grandma Shark’ t-shirt – can be seen holding Kaiden as she watches the scene unfold.
“His son starts firing bullets at your baby and his own mother, and your son gets grazed by a bullet,” Zambonini said, pointing to George in the prisoner’s box. “You are right in the middle of these two men just before filming begins. You can’t argue with that…we can see right there.
Leitch hesitantly agreed, then added, “I don’t see anything.”
Zambonini shook his head in disbelief.
“What do you mean, you didn’t see anything? He asked. “Everyone is running and there’s gun smoke and bullets flying and this man gets shot in the legs, you’re right there in the middle, are you really telling this judge ‘I don’t don’t know what happened’, I wasn’t there? We have you on video there.
On Tuesday, Zambonini also confronted Leitch with the horrifying image of a five-year-old girl lying on the grass with a gunshot wound to her head and someone holding her tiny hand. The image was taken from a first responder’s body worn camera.
Leitch’s composure shattered. She began to cry and buried her head in her hands.
“It’s not too late to do the right thing, it’s not too late to do the human, right and decent thing, it could have been your baby,” Zambonini implored her.
“I want you to tell this judge the truth…who is this man we see on a video shoot at the birthday party,” the prosecutor said, adding, “tell the judge the truth and I won’t I won’t ask you another question.”
Leitch’s tears continued to flow for several minutes as Zambonini tossed another photo onto the computer screen: that of a man wearing a red hat, a white t-shirt with the words “Daddy Shark” written in it. on the front – George, the Crown alleges .
“Who is it,” Zambonini asked.
“I’m not sure,” Leitch said, choking back tears before the judge granted his request for a break. After returning from the hallway, Zambonini said it was obvious Leitch was trying to keep George and Cadogan out of trouble.
“Isn’t that why you testify the way you do today, don’t remember the simplest things, lie to this judge, you’re just trying to protect these guys,” he said. he declared, before announcing that he had no more questions.
The trial continues on Wednesday.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION