Stepmom failed to protect boy from father but didn't intend for him to die: lawyer

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BRAMPTON, Ont. - The lawyer for a woman accused of killing her 10-year-old stepson says his client shouldn't be convicted of murder for failing to protect the boy from his abusive father.

Brian Ross says Nichelle Boothe-Rowe admitted she didn't do enough to help Shakeil Boothe, but she also didn't encourage her husband to beat him and chain him up in their Brampton, Ont., home.

Ross, making his closing arguments in the case today, said Boothe-Rowe did not intend for the boy to die or suspect it could happen, which would be required for a murder conviction.

He says his client was under duress due to the abuse she herself suffered at the hands of her husband, and should be cleared altogether.

Boothe-Rowe and her husband Garfield Boothe are charged with second-degree murder in Shakeil's 2011 death.

Court has heard autopsy results showed the boy suffered heavy blows that overwhelmed his body, already weakened by malnutrition and severe infection.

"Nichelle had a duty to protect Shakeil and she failed in that duty ... and Shakeil is dead," Ross said.

He told the jury his client's behaviour may seem despicable, but "we don't convict people in Canada for being despicable."

Geographic location: BRAMPTON, Canada

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