Bermudez made up confession, Crown says

Johnny Bermudez outside Ontario Superior Court on University Ave. on Nov. 4, 2009

Johnny Bermudez says he has made “peace with God” for killing 2-year-old Emmily Lucas. But he’s not quite ready for penance.

Bermudez was on the stand as a witness Tuesday in the trial of Erika Mendieta, charged with second-degree murder in the 2003 beating death of her daughter, Emmily.

Bermudez, Mendieta’s live-in boyfriend at the time, claims he did it.

But when Bob Richardson, Mendieta’s lawyer, asked him to waive his rights under the Canada Evidence Act — which says anything he says as a witness can’t be used to prosecute him later — Bermudez refused.

“So you do have the guts to come here today and say that you killed a baby, and tell us how,” Richardson charged. “But not to step up to the plate all the way? Is that right?”

“I guess so,” Bermudez said.

The Crown contends that Mendieta beat Emmily in a fit of frustration and rage when she was late to pick up her four other children from school on Nov. 13, 2003.

The toddler had slipped into unconsciousness, suffered convulsions and was covered in bruises when an ambulance took to her hospital. She died 10 days later of severe brain injuries.

Bermudez told the court he slapped and pushed Emmily twice while Mendieta was out. He admitted to the fatal beating last year, too, when Mendieta first faced the charges. That hearing ended in a mistrial.

“I’m here for myself,” Bermudez said Tuesday. “I don’t care what anyone here in this courtroom thinks of me.”

He was agitated and uncooperative on the stand, as Crown Attorney Allison MacPherson asked him to recall basic details about the day he claims to have struck Emmily.

“I don’t recall,” he said again and again. “There were so many things going on in my life, I don’t even know what the truth was,” Bermudez pined, blaming issues with alcohol, drugs, and the police for his fuzzy memory.

MacPherson said Bermudez made up his story to protect Mendieta, knowing his confession couldn’t be used against him later.

“You weren’t cleansing your soul,” she said. “I don’t think you ever had a crisis of conscience.”

The trial continues Nov. 22.

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