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Edmonton soldier found guilty of attempting to kill children in house fire

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An Edmonton soldier accused of trying to kill her three children has been found guilty on all counts against her.

The woman, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban to protect the children, was charged with three counts of attempted murder and two counts of arson after a 2015 house fire at CFB Edmonton.

The 10-day trial wrapped up on Feb. 17, with the judge hearing testimony from several witnesses, including the woman's children and ex-husband.

The woman's ex-husband told court their relationship was very difficult and that he was assisting with the wildfires in northern Saskatchewan when the blaze broke out at CFB Edmonton on July 20.

“My kids were scared of me because they had been told I would hurt them,” the father of the couple's three children recalled.

At the time of the fire, the children were living with their mother and their parents were involved in an acrimonious custody battle.

According to evidence presented at the trial, days before the blaze, the mother had been informed her ex would assume primary care of the children after they went to a summer camp.

Instead, the mother took the children to West Edmonton Mall for “staycation” at the Fantasyland Hotel and Galaxyland amusement park.

Court of Kings Bench Justice John Little found that the accused then formulated a plan. First, she sent $10,000 dollars and a note to a male friend, and then removed the smoke detectors in the home.

The woman's oldest son testified when they got home, the woman gave each child Nyquil.

The boy, who is now 17, said they played video games in his mother's room before going to bed. The teen said his mother “told us she loved us and that we’ll never have to see him again.”

He told court he believed his mom was referring to his father.

The son said he woke up later to smoke in the house.

He told the court his mother told them the smoke was from the wildfires, so he and his younger brother closed the windows.

“It kept on getting smokier, and she just said, 'Put a pillow or a blanket over your mouth,'” the 17-year-old told court.

He said he went downstairs and found smoke coming from the basement door.

When he opened the door, he saw a red glow.

He told the court his mother told him to go back upstairs.

The teen said he found his brother and they poked a hole in a window screen and climbed out onto the roof.

All four escaped the fire with help from neighbours.

On Friday, Justice Little stated, "The only logical inference from the evidence in its entirety is that in the days before the fire, [the woman,] normally a prudent money conscious person, who had just had her world turned upside down by a court order granting primary custody of the children to her ex-husband, decided it was better to die with her children than to lose them to their father.” 

The woman pleaded not guilty to the charges at the start of the trial.

She is under a strict house arrest until her sentencing date is set on March 10.

The children now live with their father.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Alison MacKinnon, and Amanda Anderson.  

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