Scarlett, was born in 2000 in Canada. After Scarlett’s birth, her mother, Peng went into a deep depression. Given that Peng also has bipolar disorder, she and her ex-husband decided that they were unable to care for Scarlett given Peng’s state. They decided that it would be best if Scarlett went to live with Peng’s mother in China.
Peng’s mother brought Scarlett back to Canada in 2004. Concerned with Scarlett’s behavior, her family took her to see professionals to see what was wrong. Scarlett was later diagnosed with autism.
After being diagnosed, Scarlett was left at home alone with Peng. Peng and Scarlett had not been alone together since late 2001, and Peng became irritated with the way in which Scarlett was behaving. In a fit of rage, Peng grabbed Scarlett and submerged her head underwater in the bathtub.
In March 2008 when Peng was initially convicted, she was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. A new trial was ordered last year however, when evidence surfaced that Supreme Court Justice Mary Lou Benotto had given incorrect instructions to the jury.
The new trial instead convicted her of manslaughter, and sentenced her to just five years in prison. Assistant Crown Attorney Joshua Levy explained the court’s decision:
“Given her unique circumstances, especially given the stresses in her life and her mental state, a five-year prison sentence seemed the appropriate range.”
She was able to be released yesterday based on the time that she was in custody prior to the trial.
Peng, while being questioned by reporters upon leaving the courthouse, had this to say: “I will feel great regret the rest of my life. I miss my daughter every day.”