Family believes justice system failed Samantha Mercer
TRURO - Loud sobs and expressions of disbelief filled a packed Truro courtroom Monday as Judge Alan Tufts rendered his not guilty verdict in the manslaughter case against Terry Dean Allen.
"Oh my God," a shocked and anguished Aleisha Mercer reacted as the judge read his decision against her daughter's accused killer.
Mercer then immediately began wailing and crying as family and supporters helped her from the courtroom.
Moments later, as Allen stepped outside the court building, he was assailed with angry shouts, curses and taunts before being whisked away by his lawyer from the embittered crowd.
"You (effing) piece of shit. You bastard," someone shouted, as he walked away from the building. "You wait."
Samantha Marie Mercer died in early March 2005 after receiving massive brain damage and other injuries while under Allen's care in the Brunswick Street home he shared with her mother. Mercer was at work when the injuries occurred. Samantha died two days later after being removed from life support at the IWK Children's Hospital.
Approximately 50 people, including various media representatives and a heavy police presence, crowded the courtroom to standing-room only for the long-awaited decision. The June trial, held up in part because of the busy schedule of an expert Crown witness, lasted almost three weeks.
Supporters of the Mercer family shouted words of hate toward Allen and expressed bitter disappointment in what they viewed as flawed justice where Samantha was concerned.
"It does not say much for the system for anybody to brutally beat a three-and-a-half-year-old child and get away with it," said longtime family friend Tanya Jones. "I held on to my cross the whole time and prayed for little Sammy but, unfortunately justice, it wasn't (done). I'm just speechless. Poor Sammy. The justice system needs to look over it a lot better than it has and for him to come out the way he did, smirk at everybody and smile, he knew what he did wrong, obviously, and he just wanted to get his point across - 'I got away with it ...'" Jones said.
"We all thought he was going to be found guilty. He should be found guilty. I'm just shaking ... as a mother myself, I cannot imagine what Aleisha is going through right now."
Later, as a small group of family and friends gathered at Samantha's gravesite, Mercer's brother's fiancÉ, Leah Allen (no relation to Terry Dean Allen) said they were all in disbelief over the decision.
"She's very upset," Allen said of Mercer. "She doesn't understand (the decision) ...."
And while a guilty verdict would not have changed the outcome of Samantha's fate, she said, it would have provided comfort for those who still believe the child was not fatally injured from falling down the stairs as Terry Allen had maintained.
"Samantha's gone ... regardless of what happens in court, Samantha's not coming back," she said. "Obviously this is a very hard time for our family and we are very disappointed that he has the opportunity to hurt someone else.
We do believe that is going to
"Nobody really knew what to expect," she added, of the decision. "It's been a really long four and a half years. It seems like every time we get our hopes up for something to happen, nothing happens.
"So it just feels now like it did when we took Samantha to the hospital ..."
Mercer's mother, Shannon, said the family has not yet entirely given up hope and they will be pressing the Crown to appeal the judge's decision.
"We are not going to stop," she said. "We are not going to give up."
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