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Mom Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter

September 9, 2002

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CALGARY, Alberta (AP) _ A woman who left her two young children to starve in an empty apartment while she partied with her boyfriend was sentenced Monday to eight years in prison.

Rie Fujii, 24, pleaded guilty to manslaughter earlier this year. A Japanese citizen living illegally in Canada, Fujii was expected to be deported after serving her time.

Fujii showed little emotion when Justice Peter Martin announced her sentence and never looked at her parents, who traveled from Japan to attend the hearing.

Martin said Fujii was depressed and suffered from a personality disorder, enabling her to deceive herself that the children could manage without her. But he said that she was aware that leaving her children was dooming them to death.

``These children had the sad misfortune to be born to a mother who could not care for them and a father who would not,″ Martin said.

According to evidence in the case, Fujii left 15-month-old Domenic Brown and his 3-month-old sister Gemini alone for 10 days beginning at the end of May 2001 while she left town with a boyfriend.

Doctors say the babies likely lapsed into comas caused by dehydration before they died days later.

Martin said the father, a petty criminal who did not attend any of the court proceedings, abused Fujii emotionally and physically before and after the births of their children and did nothing to support his family.

``His derelict, irresponsible behavior greatly contributed to his family’s despair,″ Martin said.

After returning home to find her children dead, Fujii tossed the body of Gemini into a garbage bin, according to evidence in the case. It has not been recovered.

Domenic’s body was wrapped in a blanket and left on the floor, where it was discovered June 5, 2001, by her landlord.

Before abandoning the children, Fujii repeatedly used a crisis nursery in Calgary. She left Domenic there for up to three days at a time, including after Gemini was born.

After pleading guilty to manslaughter, Fujii tearfully apologized, saying she knew her behavior was cruel and disgusting. Fujii came to Canada in 1997 on a visitor’s visa and briefly attended Calgary’s Mount Royal College.

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