On October 17, 2011, 29-year-old Anna Karissa Grandine (called Karissa) took a bath before bed. She had no idea that her husband had drugged her with a sedative so he could talk to his mistress and look at pornography without getting caught. As a result of his actions, Karissa — who was twenty weeks pregnant — drowned in the bath that night.
Her husband, former Baptist pastor Philip Grandine, was convicted of manslaughter. He appealed that conviction, was granted a second trial, and was convicted again.
After being sentenced to 15 years in prison — twice — Grandine is a free man, released on bail pending a second appeal that could lead to yet another trial.
In fact, Grandine has been out on bail for much of the last seven years, except for a year spent in custody and a period of house arrest, avoiding hard time as he awaits the ultimate outcomes of his repeated appeals.
After his initial case was overturned, Grandine’s lawyer Michael Lacy cautioned reporters that — as far as the Canadian justice system is concerned — Grandine can no longer be considered guilty:
He’s now presumed innocent in relation to the death of his wife. He starts again with a clean slate.
While this might be true in a legal sense, the facts of the case appear fairly damning.
Grandine had drugged Karissa before, landing her in the hospital just days before her death. The medication found in her system was never prescribed to her, and in fact is not recommended during pregnancy, which makes it far less likely that she administered the drug to herself.
Furthermore, Grandine’s internet search history in the days before his wife’s death included phrases such as “would 100mg of Ativan [lorazepam] be fatal” and “where to buy lorazepam in Toronto,” as well as a combination of the words “autopsy,” “lorazepam,” and “toxicology.”
As for motive, Grandine was forced out of the pulpit after Karissa learned of his affair with another parishioner, Eileen Florentino, who shared details of their relationship as a witness for the prosecution during Grandine’s initial trial for first-degree murder. During the last weeks of her life, Karissa had discovered that the affair between the two was ongoing, and it continued for some months after her death. Florentino testified that they even met up for sex in the days between the death and the funeral.
While the jury in Grandine’s original trial wasn’t convinced that he had deliberately drugged Karissa with intent to kill her, Judge Robert Clark argued otherwise in his opinion:
Although I cannot say with certainty what the accused’s purpose was in administering lorazepam to his wife on this particular occasion, I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that it was, in the least, deviant, malicious, and… in furtherance of his contemplation of murdering her at some point.
These facts paint a picture of a man who used his position as a pastor to break his marital vows, became entangled in an affair, and — at absolute best — mistakenly killed his wife when he merely meant to knock her unconscious so he could violate the terms of their relationship. At worst, he planned to murder her.
Now, in an effort to escape the consequences of his own actions, Grandine is denying Karissa’s family closure through repeated appeals. Family friend Cliff McDowell summed it up neatly following the bail hearing:
They [Karissa’s loved ones] have to relive this horrible thing over again. There’s no closure today. There’s no rest for the family today. And this monster gets to play the system again.
Whatever the outcome, no doubt there’s nothing in the Bible that suggests this is what Jesus would do.