Mastermind in Rengel's murder wants conviction tossed
By Michele Mandel
First posted: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 08:50 PM EST | Updated: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 09:09 PM EST
TORONTO - The jealous young mastermind behind her boyfriend’s vicious murder of teen Stefanie Rengel wants her conviction overturned and her adult sentence thrown out.
As it is, Melissa Todorovic is eligible for parole in just 13 months for ordering the 2008 stabbing of her 14-year-old “rival.” But that’s still not soon enough for her.
Todorovic, ever the manipulator, will ask the Ontario Court of Appeal Wednesday to believe she was just joking when she bombarded David Bagshaw with hundreds of texts urging him to kill his former flame or there would be no more sex between them.
Her lawyer will argue that she wasn’t really “the puppet master” at all, that her messages were misinterpreted and taken out of context.
A jury, however, found otherwise on March 20, 2009.
After her unrelenting eight-month campaign of phone calls, 50,000 MSN messages and thousands of text messages filled with sexual blackmail, Todorovic’s lovesick boyfriend finally lured Rengel, the daughter of a police officer, from her East York home on New Year’s Day 2008. After stabbing her six times in the abdomen, he left her to die in a snowbank and rushed to Todorovic for his sexual reward.
Within hours, both Bagshaw, 17, and Todorovic, 15, were under arrest for a sick and twisted murder plot that claimed the life of the innocent girl. Both were convicted of first-degree murder under the Youth Criminal Justice Act but sentenced as adults. Bagshaw, who has already lost his appeal, is serving life with no eligibility for parole for 10 years while Todorovic can apply after just seven.
How lucky for them both.
Todorovic gave two incriminating statements to police in which she admitted telling Bagshaw she wanted Stefanie dead, knew he went over to her house with a knife and then called him 15 minutes after the murder to ask, “Is she dead?”
But in court papers, her lawyer Brian Snell argues that detectives failed to clearly explain her rights to have a lawyer present and so her statements shouldn’t have been admitted at her trial. Snell also insists that when Todorovic told police she didn’t expect Bagshaw would take her seriously, she was telling the truth.
In its court filing, the Crown contends that in Todorovic’s first police interview, detectives considered her a witness, not a suspect, and she knew she could leave at any point. It was only when she surprisingly admitted asking Bagshaw to “do it” that the interview was stopped and she was placed under arrest. At her second interview, the Crown says Todorovic waived her right to have a lawyer present.
But even if her police statements were admitted in error, the Crown argues that Todorovic would still have been convicted. The case rested largely on the “powerful evidence” of her text and phone call records before, during and after the murder in which she “encouraged and/or counselled him to kill Stefanie with the intention that he do so.”
If they lose their conviction appeal, Todorovic’s lawyer is asking that her adult sentence be overturned.
Nordheimer refused to sentence her as a youth, saying the “horrific” and “unfathomable” murder she orchestrated suggested “a character flaw that is frightening in its prospects, especially if it is not properly diagnosed and treated.”
And it’s doubtful she has sought treatment.
Before turning 20 in January 2012, Todorovic fought an unsuccessful bid to remain in the Roy McMurtry Youth Centre where, the judge noted, she was still not taking any counselling. Rengel’s family doesn’t know if that has changed.
In May they were given a positive prison “report card” on Todorovic’s current stay in the adult system, but were told that counselling is considered “medical” information, which is private.
“I think that when a person commits cold-blooded premeditated murder, he or she should no longer expect to enjoy the great privilege of all our Canadian human rights,” complained Stefanie’s mother, Patricia Hung, on her blog.
“What I want more than anything is for David and Melissa to acknowledge their responsibility, work on the very serious issues they must have and to heal so that no other family ever has to face what we are facing by their hands.”
But by seeking this appeal, it appears clear Todorovic isn’t doing any of the above.
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