Victims of the State

26 Cases

 Alberta, Canada

Richard McArthur

Jan 24, 1986

Richard McArthur was convicted of the stabbing murder of a fellow inmate at the Drumheller Penitentiary. Following McArthur's conviction he met four witnesses in regard to the stabbing while serving time at the Edmonton Institution. They informed him of what they knew about the stabbing, explaining their earlier denial of knowledge to Drumheller investigators was because they did not want to get involved. These witnesses supported McArthur's contention that he killed the deceased in self-defence. Three of these witnesses saw the deceased, armed with a knife, go to McArthur's cell shortly before the stabbing incident. Based on this new evidence, the Alberta Court of Appeal overturned his conviction. Since McArthur had already served the minimum time for his conviction and the crown did not wish to retry him, the Court also ordered his acquittal.  (R. v. McArthur)  [8/09]

 British Columbia, Canada

Corey Robinson

July 24, 1992 (Richmond)

Corey Lawrence Robinson was twice convicted of the murder of his neighbour and close friend, Lori Aiston. He was sentenced both times to a term of 10 years. Aiston was repeatedly stabbed, kicked, and beaten in her apartment on Colonial Drive in Richmond, then dragged and left to bleed to death on her two-year-old daughter's bed. Her daughter was in the apartment with her the whole time, unable to do anything but watch. The general details of the case give little reason to suspect Robinson's involvement in the murder. The only evidence ever found linking Robinson to the scene of the crime was a microscopic amount of his DNA detected under Aiston's fingernails. DNA found on a bloody paper towel found at the scene did not belong to either Aiston or Robinson. It was only after a “so-called” confession made following heavy interrogation by Sgt. Don Adam, in December 1994, that the police were able to lay a charge. In 2003, the British Columbia Court of Appeal dismissed Robinson's conviction on the grounds there was never any evidence to arrest him in the first place.  (Now) (R. v. Robinson)  [4/09]

 Manitoba, Canada

Thomas Sophonow

Dec 23, 1981 (Winnipeg)

Thomas Sophonow was convicted of murdering 16-year-old Barbara Stoppel. Stoppel was working at the Ideal Donut Shop when twine was placed around her neck and she was strangled. Sophonow's first trial resulted in a mistrial, but he was convicted at his second and third trials. However, the Manitoba Court of Appeal acquitted him in 1985. In June 2000, the Winnipeg Police announced that Sophonow was not responsible for the murder and that another suspect had been identified. In 2003, Sophonow was awarded $2.6 million in compensation.  (R. v. Sophonow) (Inquiry Report) (FJDB)  [1/07]

 Manitoba, Canada

James Driskell

June 16, 1990 (Winnipeg)

James Patrick Driskell was convicted of the murder of Perry Dean Harder. Harder, age 29, was last seen outside his rooming house in a pickup truck. His decomposed body was found three months later in a shallow grave just outside Winnipeg near Brookside Boulevard and Logan Avenue on Sept. 30, 1990. He had been shot three times in the chest. Driskell and Harder had been involved in a chop shop operation which was raided in 1989. They were jointly charged in a series of break-and-enters following the raid. Driskell said he had nothing to do with the criminal activity. But according to police Harder named him as an accomplice. Five days before the preliminary hearing into those charges, Harder disappeared. The Crown's theory was that Driskell had committed the murder in order to prevent Harder from testifying against him.
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 Manitoba, Canada

Cody Klyne

Sept 4, 2006

Cody Klyne was convicted of dangerous driving and flight from police. His conviction was based on the eyewitness testimony of two police officers who only momentarily saw the car's driver. In Aug. 2007, the Manitoba Court of Appeal ruled that the officers' identification was too unreliable to support Klyne's conviction, and overturned the conviction.  (Winnipeg Free Press) (R. v. Klyne) [1/08]

 New Brunswick, Canada

Erin Walsh

Aug 12, 1975 (St. John)

Erin Walsh was convicted of the second degree murder of Melvin Eugene “Chi Chi” Peters, an African Canadian. The crown alleged that Walsh's motive in the killing was racial animosity. They did not consider that he grew up in a housing project surrounded by African Canadians. Walsh claimed that Donald McMillan, David Walton, and Peters twice attempted to rob him of his money and drugs. He testified that after their first attempt, he managed to escape, and ran to some nearby CNR workers, begging them to call the police, which they did. When he then tried to make his way to his car to escape, the would-be robbers found him again. This time they forced him into the front, middle seat of his car at gunpoint. Walsh struggled for possession of the gun, but ultimately it ended up in the hands of McMillan, where it discharged and killed Peters. There was no evidence to corroborate Walsh's testimony. The crown had McMillan and Walton testify to a different story. Following Walsh's conviction, he spent the next twenty years in prison.

In 2003, Walsh wrote to the New Brunswick Provincial Archives and received the complete crown file of his case. In it were reports that were completely exculpatory of him and which supported his version of events: (1) Less than an hour after the fatal shooting, a St. John police officer heard one of the robbers, Walton, ask the other robber, McMillan, why he shot Peters. (2) A local store owner stated that the shells used in the gun were purchased one day before McMillan said they were purchased, when Walsh was a thousand miles away from St. John. (3) Seven witnesses signed statements attesting that Walsh ran away from McMillan, Walton, and Peters after they had attempted to rob him at gunpoint just prior to forcing him into the car. These witnesses supported Walsh's claim that he asked people to call the police just 10 minutes before Peters was shot. In Mar. 2008, after a Federal Justice and the NB Attorney General agreed that a miscarriage of justice had occurred, the Court of Appeals quashed Walsh's conviction.  (CBC) (Walsh v. NB)  [6/08]

 New Brunswick, Canada

George Pitt

Oct 2, 1993 (St. John)

George Pitt was convicted in 1994 of the rape and murder of his six-year-old stepdaughter, Samantha Dawn Toole. Samantha was found dead behind her home at the edge of the Saint John River. The key evidence against Pitt was that he was washing a comforter at four in the morning. Biological evidence that was not tested before trial has since been tested and such tests clear Pitt. Pitt is still imprisoned as of 2006, serving a life term.  (Ottawa Citizen) (R. v. Pitt)  [9/06]

 Newfoundland, Canada

Ronald Dalton

Aug 16, 1988 (Gander)

Ronald Dalton was convicted of the strangulation murder his wife Brenda. Dalton got a retrial because forensic evidence indicated that Brenda choked to death on dry cereal. At his retrial in 2000, Dalton was acquitted.  (IB) (FJDB)  [1/07]

 Newfoundland, Canada

Gregory Parsons

Jan 1, 1991

Gregory Parsons was convicted in 1994 of murdering his mother, Catherine Carroll. Carroll had been stabbed 53 times. Parsons was sentenced to life imprisonment. His mother's psychiatrist and friends recalled her saying that her son, 19, had threatened her life. Two years earlier Parsons been part of a band that sang a song called “Kill, kill, kill,” about children killing their parents. In addition Carroll had allegedly once sought a restraining order against her son.

In 1998 the Newfoundland Supreme Court acquitted Parsons after DNA tests proved he could not have been the killer. Years later, following an undercover sting operation, police got Brian Doyle, a childhood friend of Parsons, to confess to the crime. Doyle pleaded guilty to the crime in 2002 and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Parsons was awarded $650,000 in 2002 and another $650,000 in 2005 for his wrongful conviction and imprisonment.  (CBC)  [4/09]

 Newfoundland, Canada

Randy Druken

June 12, 1993

Randy Druken was convicted of murdering his girlfriend, Brenda Young. This conviction was overturned after a jailhouse informant recanted his story, claiming that police had bullied him into making it. DNA testing was then done on a cigarette which was believed to have come from the killer. That testing established that cigarette had not be used by Druken. In 2000, the Crown stayed the charge against Druken rather than proceed with a new trial. Evidence came to light in 1998 that Druken's brother Paul was the actual murderer, and it was established he had been with Brenda at the time of her death.  (FJDB)  [1/07]

 NW Territories, Canada

Herman Kaglik

Convicted 1992, 93 (Inuvik)

Herman Kaglik, age 35, was convicted of raping his 37-year-old niece due to her testimony. He was sentenced to four years in prison. After he had served a year of prison the niece then charged him with additional rapes. Kaglik was convicted of the additional rapes and sentenced to an additional six years prison. In 1996, DNA tests excluded him as a possible assailant of his niece. In 2000, he was awarded $1.1 million in compensation for his two wrongful convictions.  (Ottawa Citizen)  [1/07]

 Nova Scotia, Canada

Donald Marshall, Jr.

May 28, 1971 (Sydney)

Donald Marshall, Jr. was sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering his friend Sandy Seale. The two had been walking in Sydney's Wentworth Park when a stranger stabbed Seale in the belly for little apparent reason. Seale died the next day. Marshall was a Mi'kmaq Indian and Seale was a black. Both were 17 years of age. Marshall spent 11 years in jail before being acquitted in 1983. A witness came forward to say he had seen another man stab Seale. Marshall was awarded a lifetime pension of $1.5 million.  (Info)  [7/05]

 Ontario, Canada

Steven Truscott

June 9, 1959

Steven Murray Truscott was sentenced to death for the murder of his 12-year-old schoolmate, Lynn Harper. Harper disappeared near RCAF Clinton, an air force station, a few miles south of Clinton, Ontario. Truscott and Harper were 7th grade classmates at the same school. On the early evening of June 9, 1959, Truscott, then 14, gave Harper a ride on the crossbar of his bicycle from the vicinity of the school and the two traveled north along Country Road. Truscott maintained that he dropped her off unharmed at the intersection of Country Road and Highway 8. He said she told him she had squabbled with her parents and planned to hitch a ride somewhere. He said that after dropping her off he looked back and saw that a vehicle had stopped and that Harper was in the process of entering it. Harper's father reported her missing at 11:20 p.m. that evening.

Two days later Harper was found in a wooded lot off of Country Road. She had been raped and murdered. Within hours Truscott was arrested and charged with Harper's murder. At trial, all evidence against him was circumstantial and centered on placing Harper's death within a narrow time frame which implicated him. A pathologist testified that Harper died between 7:00 and 7:45 p.m. – an extremely precise determination even by today's forensic standards. Years later, the pathologist would amend his testimony and place Harper's death within a 12-hour time frame. Truscott was convicted and sentenced to hang, but four months later his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. In 1966, Isabel LeBourdais rekindled interest in the case by publishing The Trial of Steven Truscott in which she argued that Truscott had been convicted of a crime he did not commit. In 1969, Truscott was released on parole and in 1974 the National Parole Board released him from the terms and conditions of his parole.

In 2000 interest in the case was again revived after a documentary on Truscott appeared on CBC's The Fifth Estate. Subsequently, journalist Julian Scher published a book on him entitled Until You Are Dead. Both of these sources suggested that significant evidence in favour of Truscott had been ignored at his trial. In 2001, lawyers filed an appeal to have the case reopened. In 2007, the Ontario Court of Appeal acquitted Truscott, and in 2008, Truscott was awarded $6.5 million for his wrongful conviction and imprisonment.  (CBC)  [7/08]

 Ontario, Canada

Romeo Phillion

Aug 9, 1967 (Ottawa)

Romeo Phillion was convicted of the murder of Leopold Roy. Roy, 48, was stabbed to death on Aug. 9, 1967 at the Churchill Court Apartments located at 275 Friel St. in Ottawa. Roy worked for the Ottawa Fire Department and was also superintendent of the apartments. The killer had some claim to have acted in self-defence as Roy had assaulted him merely because his behavior was suspicious.
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 Ontario, Canada

Gary Staples

Dec 1969 (Hamilton)

Gary Staples was convicted of the murder of Gerald Burke. Burke was shot to death in the cab he drove while parked behind an industrial plant on Dunbar Ave. in Hamilton, ON. Staples' conviction was based on the testimony of his jilted ex-girlfriend who in exchange for leniency on robbery charges said Staples confessed to the shooting. Staples won an acquittal on appeal in 1972. He was officially cleared in 2002, after a retired judge and two law students found police had suppressed evidence of two witnesses whose testimony would have acquitted him. The Hamilton police force sent him a written apology. Staples also received an undisclosed amount of cash.  (Info) (IB) (CBC)

 Ontario, Canada

Guy Paul Morin

Oct 3, 1984

Guy Paul Morin was tried twice for the killing of nine-year-old Christine Jessop, his next door neighbor. Jessup was abducted from her Queensville home on Oct. 3, 1984. Her lifeless body was found on Dec. 31, 1984 some 33 miles away in the Durham Region. The body's decomposition was consistent with her death occurring near the time of her abduction. Morin was arrested in Feb. 1985, and acquitted at trial in Feb. 1986. The prosecution, however, appealed the acquittal and had it overturned. Morin was again arrested 5 months after his acquittal and convicted at retrial in 1992. At both trials the crown employed jailhouse informants to fill in gaps in its case. DNA tests exonerated Morin in 1995, and he was later awarded $1.4 million in compensation. A book was written about the case entitled Redrum The Innocent by Kirk Makin.  (Champion) (IB)  [12/05]

 Ontario, Canada

Rodney Cain

Apr 7, 1985 (Toronto)

Rodney Cain was convicted of murdering Joel Willis outside an after-hours club located at 566 St. Clair Ave. West in Toronto. Cain's conviction was overturned in May 2004 because of new evidence that strongly suggested Cain acted in self-defence. Cain is currently free on bail while a court decides whether to order a new trial or exonerate him.  (Canoe) (R. v. Cain, 2006) (The Star)  [12/05]

 Ontario, Canada

Michael McTaggart

Convicted 1987

Michael McTaggert was convicted in 1987 of armed bank robbery. In 1990, his conviction was reversed after it was discovered that while he was jailed, robberies continued by the same robber that McTaggert was alleged to have been. In 2000, evidence was revealed that two bank tellers had identified another man as the robber, and the prosecution had concealed this information from McTaggert's defence. In 2001, McTaggert was awarded $380,000 in compensation for his 20 months of imprisonment.  (IB)  [1/07]

 Ontario, Canada

Peter Frumusa

Aug 22, 1988 (Niagara Falls)

Peter Frumusa was convicted of murdering Richard and Annie Wilson, a married couple. The victims were found dead in their beds and died as a result of blows to their heads. No murder weapon was found. There was no evidence of forced entry to their house, or of robbery or vandalism. Since Richard's wallet and money were found close to his body, robbery appeared not to be a motive and the killings were thought to be executions.
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 Ontario, Canada

Cumberland Four

Jan 16, 1990 (Cumberland)

Robert Stewart, Richard Mallory, Richard Trudel, and James Sauvé were convicted of the murders of 24-year-old Michel Giroux and his 27-year-old pregnant common-law wife, Manon Bourdeau. The victims were shot to death at their home on Queen Street in the Ottawa suburb of Cumberland. Stewart and Trudel were distribution-level drug dealers while Mallory and Sauvé were their enforcers. Giroux was a retail-level drug dealer. According to the Crown, Giroux owed money to Stewart and Stewart ordered his killing as an example to other drug dealers who owed him money.
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 Ontario, Canada

Robert Baltovich

June 19, 1990 (Toronto)

Robert Baltovich was convicted in 1992 of murdering his 22-year-old girlfriend, Elizabeth Bain, even though her body was never found. Bain was last seen Tuesday June 19, 1990 on the University of Toronto's Scarborough Campus. Her car was found the following Friday, parked at an auto body shop near campus. Blood was pooled on the floor in the back, suggesting she was murdered.

No physical evidence connects Baltovich to the alleged murder. According to the crown, Baltovich killed Bain by 7 p.m. on the day of her disappearance. However, Baltovich was seen waiting to meet her outside a 9 p.m. class that she took. The crown also argued that Baltovich drove Bain's car after 1 a.m. Friday morning to Lake Scugog, an hour's drive north of Toronto. He then allegedly buried her body in the mud of the lake before returning to Toronto by 6 a.m. However, Baltovich reportedly could not drive Bain's car because it had a manual transmission.

Since Baltovich's conviction, his lawyers have argued that serial killer Paul Bernardo is a stronger suspect than Baltovich in Bain's murder. At the time of Bain's disappearance, Bernardo was known as the Scarborough rapist. An award winning book called No Claim to Mercy by Derek Finkle was written about Baltovich's case in 1998. Following a hearing in September 2004, the Ontario Court of Appeal ordered a new trial, citing an unfair and unbalanced charge to jury during the first trial. At retrial in 2008, the crown presented no evidence and urged the jury to acquit Baltovich, which the jury promptly did.

The crown's sudden decision not to retry Baltovich was apparently prompted by one of its witnesses. Four days before the retrial, the victim's father, Rick Bain, told the crown that his daughter told him of an imminent rendezvous with Baltovich on the day of her murder. Since the witness had never mentioned this conversation before, he presumably was planning to perjure himself in an effort to convict Baltovich. Disclosure rules forced the crown had to inform the defence of the conversation. Even if the witness stuck to his previous testimony, the defence could use his reported conversation to undermine his credibility.  (IB) (Wiki)  [4/08]

 Ontario, Canada

Bill Mullins-Johnson

June 27, 1993 (S. S. Marie)

Bill Mullins-Johnson was convicted of sodomizing and strangling his four-year-old niece, Valin Johnson, who was found dead in her bed. His conviction was based on the testimony of Dr. Charles Smith, whose handling of 40 suspicious child deaths since 1991 is currently under review. Two experts, including Ontario's chief pathologist, now say Valin was never sexually abused or strangled. They argue she in fact died of natural causes, possibly from choking on her own vomit caused by a chronic stomach ailment. Mullins-Johnson was freed on bail in Sept. 2005 pending the results of a federal review of his case. In Oct. 2007, the Ontario Court of Appeal acquitted Mullins-Johnson of all charges.  (National Post)  [12/05]

 Ontario, Canada

Tammy Marquardt

Oct 9, 1993

Tammy Marquardt was convicted of the murder of her 2-year-old son, Kenneth. Marquardt said she woke from a nap to find Kenneth tangled in his bed sheets and when she freed him he wasn't moving. However, a pathologist, Charles Smith, testified that Kenneth had died from asphyxia after being smothered or strangled. Smith's findings were subsequently rejected by six forensic experts, including Newfoundland and Labrador's chief medical examiner, Dr. Simon Avis, who said Kenneth, an epileptic, could have died from a seizure. Another expert, Dr. Pekka Saukko, said Smith's conclusions in Marquardt's case were “illogical and completely against scientific evidence based reasoning.” Marquardt had rejected a plea bargain that would have given her a five-year sentence for manslaughter.

The Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario found that Smith made serious errors in 20 of 45 criminally suspicious deaths he investigated between 1991 and 2001. Smith's findings led to homicide charges against parents and caregivers, many of which were unwarranted. In early 2009, Marquardt was the last person included in a review of of Smith's work still behind bars. She has maintained her innocence and said she discovered her son struggling and tangled in a bed sheet after he called out to her from a bedroom. Marquardt was released on bail in Mar. 2009 and her conviction was quashed in Feb. 2011. The pathologist, Dr. Charles Smith, was stripped of his license to practice medicine in Ontario.  (Toronto Star) (Ottawa Citizen) (The Record)  [3/09]

 Ontario, Canada

Dimitre Dimitrov

Feb 21, 1996 (Vanier)

Dimitre Dimitrov was convicted in 1999 of murdering his friend and landlord, Hristo Veltchev, 37. Veltchev's body was found in a public parking lot, stuffed in the trunk of his car. Evidence indicated that he had been bludgeoned to death in the garage of his house. Dimitrov's conviction was based on expert testimony that his feet matched impressions found inside a pair of bloody boots at the victim's house. The boots were found in a front hall closet in the house. The closet was used by all the boarders of the house including Dimitrov. Apart from the expert's testimony, there was no evidence Dimitrov owned or had worn the boots. A retrial was ordered in 2003 after a court ruled that the impression evidence was inadmissible to establish positive identification unless it was accompanied by corroborating evidence. At retrial in 2004, DNA test results were presented, which showed that the blood on the boots belonged neither to the victim, nor to Dimitrov, nor to anyone else known to have entered the house. Dimitrov was acquitted. He had spent 4 1/2 years imprisoned.  (JD)  [5/08]

 Quebec, Canada

Benoit Proulx

Oct 25, 1982 (Ste. Foy)

Benoit Proulx was convicted in 1991 of murdering his ex-girlfriend, 19-year-old France Alain. Alain, a University of Laval student, was shot in the hip near the CHRC radio station in Sainte-Foy. She died a short time later. Proulx was a reporter at the station and had been working the night of the murder. In 1986 the case file was closed as the coroner was unable to establish any contact between Proulx and Alain on the night of the murder.

Subsequently, Proulx launched a defamation suit against a radio station and a retired police investigator for comments they made concerning his guilt. In 1991, in the midst of this suit, the suit defendants advised the prosecution of a potential new witness. The witness claimed that after seeing Proulx's photo in the newspaper, he recognized Proulx's eyes as being the eyes of a bearded man he saw near the crime scene on the night of the murder. The witness could not at first formally identify Proulx. Nevertheless he identified Proulx at trial and Proulx was convicted. In 1992, the Quebec Court of Appeal quashed the conviction due to serious trial irregularities. It also noted that the presented evidence was insufficient to support the conviction. The court entered a verdict of acquittal.

Following his acquittal, Proulx sued the Attorney General of Quebec for malicious prosecution and won a judgment of $1.15 million. However, the judgment was reversed on appeal. Proulx was awarded $1.6 million for his wrongful imprisonment.  (IB) (Proulx v. Quebec)  [4/08]

 Saskatchewan, Canada

David Milgaard

Jan 31, 1969 (Saskatoon)

David Milgaard was convicted of the rape and stabbing murder of Gail Miller, a Saskatoon nursing aide. In 1992, the Canadian Supreme Court freed Milgaard after he spent 23 years in prison. Five years later, DNA tests of physical evidence confirmed Milgaard's innocence. In 1999, the true killer, Larry Fisher, was convicted of Miller's murder. In the same year, Milgaard was awarded $10 million in compensation for his wrongful imprisonment.  (CM) (IB) (Mention)  [5/05]