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The girl, who was babysitting for a woman Cobb knew, had been stabbed through an eye and bruises were found on her slit throat. The prosecutor in the case, André Vincent, who is now a Superior Court judge, said at the time that it was “one of the most horrible crimes I’ve ever seen.”
The violent death of a child followed by the indignity to her body shocked Montrealers. But that reaction was multiplied when media revealed that, just five weeks earlier, the Crown abandoned a murder case Cobb was charged in.
In June 1993, Cobb’s trial before a jury was well underway when Justice Henry Steinberg, the judge who was presiding over it, was suddenly promoted to the Quebec Court of Appeal. Steinberg declared a mistrial before moving on to the higher court.
Critics laters pointed out that Steinberg was hastily promoted just two days before Brian Mulroney resigned as Canada’s prime minister. And Steinberg said, back in 1994, he did not know that by accepting the promotion he would no longer have jurisdiction over the jury trial. A few days after Sarah was killed, the Chief Justice of the appellate court at the time questioned why Mulroney had promoted Steinberg so quickly and noted that the previous appointment to the same court took nine months. He also said decree proclaiming Steinberg a Quebec Court of Appeal was issued so quickly there was no time to ask about his ongoing cases.
The trial involved the June 20, 1992 murder of Daniel Deschênes, a 21-year-old drug dealer. At least one witness in the trial testified Cobb had tricked Deschênes into believing they were going to an isolated part of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce to take target practice with firearms. The same witness said Cobb wanted to kill Deschênes because they had robbed a drug dealer months earlier and Cobb was worried Deschênes would rat him out.