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It’s a parent’s worst nightmare; the death of a child, and then, the unthinkable – to be accused – and then wrongfully convicted, of the crime. In 1991, that’s exactly what happened to Maria Shepherd.

Maria’s three-and-a-half-year-old step-daughter Kasandra died after having already been ill and in hospital for some time. It has since been found that she likely died from natural causes. But at the time, it was alleged she was killed from a blow to the head from an object that matched the shape of Maria’s watch. Days after her death, police launched an investigation that Maria found herself at the centre of.

After a false confession, Maria spent eight months in prison after receiving a two-year sentence in exchange for her plea. She left two children behind while she was in prison, and she was also pregnant at the time.

The case evidence was based on the findings of the infamous and now-disgraced pathologist Charles Smith. Maria was acquitted 25 years later and, since then, she’s been sharing her story to make sure this never happens again.

As a paralegal, Maria has dedicated her life to helping people in cases of wrongful convictions. She’s also a director on the board of Innocence Canada, the organization that supported her through this process.

You can learn more about Maria’s story in the video clip above.