The jury deciding the fate of a Manitoba couple accused of murdering a five-year-old girl has asked a question of the judge.

The jury wanted to know how far the Crown has to go to prove a defendant had a murderous state of mind.

Specifically, they asked whether the Crown has to prove a defendant has a murderous state of mind while both performing an unlawful act and while failing to perform an action to prevent a crime.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Karen Simonsen told the jury the Crown only has to prove one or the other, not both, and the jurors resumed their deliberations.

The ten-woman, two-man jury is mulling the fate of Samantha Kematch and Karl McKay, a couple accused of abusing and killing Kematch's five-year-old daughter, Phoenix Sinclair, in 2005.

During the trial, the jury heard that the girl was subjected to horrific abuse throughout her short life. She was punched, kicked, shot with a pellet gun and forced to eat her own vomit.

The two accused are blaming each other for a final assault that left Phoenix to die on the cold concrete basement floor of the family home on the Fisher River reserve north of Winnipeg.

The jury started its deliberations Tuesday.

With files from Canadian Press