Milgaard Inquiry

Saturday, June 18, 2005

To Recall or Not to Recall

Understandably, memory and recollection of events are turning out to be a big problem in the Milgaard Inquiry. I can hardly remember what I did yesterday so I find it perfectly legitimate when many witnesses say that they have difficulty remembering things that happened 30 years ago. However, in the Milgaard case, it's difficult to ascertain who really can't remember what happened and who just finds it more convenient to say that they didn't remember.

Retired detective Raymond Mackie finished testifying on Thursday. According to Jamie Komarnicki of the Star Phoenix, Mackie stated that he didn't know if he had written a summary of the case that implicated Milgaard in Gail Miller's death.

"I'm not even sure that I authored it, even now," Mackie told Catherine Knox, who represents Milgaard prosecutor T.D.R. Caldwell.

This is problematic because Mackie was the one who took Nichol John's statement where she said that she had seen David kill Gail Miller. Nichol has never repeated that assertion since. As I said, I can understand how someone might not remember doing something decades ago. But what I don't comprehend is why there wasn't a signature on that summary. Didn't someone have to sign off on it? Wouldn't that have been a legal requirement?

Moreover, a retired sergeant by the name of Passet also took the stand Thursday. He said that he was called into the crime scene with his tracking dog. The Star Phoenix reported that Passet claimed, "The dog ran straight to an indentation in the snow in front of a funeral chapel where officers on the scene told him Miller's body had been found. The dog then went to an alleyway entrance where it appeared a car had been stuck in the snow. Passet said he filed a report, but no record of that exists today. Assistant commission lawyer Jordan Hardy pointed out that Miller's body was actually found in a different location."

In an earlier post, I'd made a joke about Watergate because so much stuff has disappeared from the Milgaard file. Of course, we can expect these kinds of things to happen when so many years have elapsed since the time of the original crime. Just because things are missing, doesn't mean that they were deliberately removed from the file. After all, the police did think that they had their killer and the man spent 23 years behind bars. That notwithstanding, it certainly does make things difficult now to go back and look at the evidence when it's not there!

The inquiry has taken another break and will not resume until August 15.

Sigrid Macdonald

Monday, June 13, 2005

The call for an Independent Judicial Board

AIDWYC has been calling for an independent judicial board for many years. We understand that various branches of the legal system will make mistakes at times -- sometimes catastrophic errors. But it is unreasonable to ask that same system to monitor itself. Just as many people find it difficult to say, "I'm sorry" or "I was wrong," so does the legal system. It also has trouble standing back and taking an objective look at itself. Sometimes, people have to investigate other people that they know. Other times, they have a vested interest in not blaming their police force or their province. It's easier for everyone's sake to have a panel that is not affiliated with the process. But good luck getting it!

On Saturday, June the 11th, there was a conference in St. John's, Newfoundland where various members of AIDWYC made their weary plea once again. Some of Canada's most well known victims of wrongful conviction spoke including Stephen Truscott, who has waited 46 years since he was sentenced to death row - he's still waiting for the Ontario Appeal Court. David M. was there along with Ronald Dalton and Gregory Parsons. Dalton was convicted of his wife's murder. As if that wasn't bad enough, Parsons was convicted of killing his mother! Imagine losing your spouse or parent and being unable to grieve because you're fighting for your own life. We need an independent panel and we need it now!

Sigrid Macdonald

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Watergate Revisited

Constable Rusty Chartier told the inquiry that he and his partner were asked by detectives to secretly record polygraph tests on two of David's friends.

It was during those crucial interviews that the teenagers first stated that David was involved in Gail Miller's murder. However, the device that Chartier employed did not work particularly well and the quality of the audio was not good. Is it any surprise to those of us who have followed the Milgaard case over the years that these tapes have since disappeared? Consequently, they cannot be viewed by the inquiry. Disgraceful!

Chartier testified that installing "bugs" was common in his job with National Criminal Intelligence, but much of that work had to do with organized crime, not murder. Sounds as though he and his pals went a bit overboard in the Miller case.

Sigrid Macdonald

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Aruba, Bahamas ... Come on, Pretty Mama

The tragic disappearance of 18-year-old Natalee Holloway in Aruba has garnered attention around the world. This beautiful, 18-year-old honor student from Alabama was celebrating her high school graduation with friends when she suddenly went missing. One of the young men who is being held in custody told police that something "bad had happened" that night, and there are conflicting reports as to whether or not someone has confessed to a crime.

While the media's attention is focused on the uncertainty of the whereabouts of a talented teenager with her entire life ahead of her, they haven't been paying quite as much attention to the legal aspects of the case. Did you know that Aruba is a Dutch protectorate and as such, it follows the laws of the Netherlands? In Aruba, someone can be held in custody for up to 116 days without any charges being laid against them! Hey, I think I'll go to Paradise Island next time I'm in the mood for a vacation.

I didn't understand that until I noticed that one person after another was being taken into police custody in the Holloway case. Don't misunderstand me. All I want is justice for Natalee Holloway and her poor family. Since she's been missing for more than two weeks now, it's unlikely that there will be a happy ending to this story. However, true justice is only realized when police arrest and confine the right person! Thus, I am also concerned about the way in which this case is being handled.

Sigrid Macdonald

Details from the inquiry Monday, May 30

AHEM. Unbeknownst to me, the Milgaard Inquiry resumed on Monday, May 30. Former police officers who were involved in the original investigation are now taking the stand. They will be asked all of the standard "Ws" - what they did years ago, why they did what they did, and who they interviewed.

According to, Rusty Chartier, an officer with the Saskatoon police, "surreptitiously recorded a conversation between Insp. Art Roberts and two of Milgaard's travelling companions, Ron Wilson and Nichol John." But, Chartier said that he doesn't remember anything "incriminating" being said at that interview.

"I can't recall much of anything that transpired and for some reason I don't think the machine wasn't working as good as it should have," he said. "I'm on the deaf side as it is," CBC reported.

Hmmm. Well, that's a convenient explanation! Sounds as though he heard Wilson and John pretty well when they implicated David in the murder.

Sigrid Macdonald

Better late than never

Oh, boy. I thought that the Milgaard case was still on hiatus because I hadn't received any updates from Joyce. What I didn't realize was that Joyce didn't have my new e-mail address! (Slapping myself on the forehead on this end.) Consequently, as many of you may have already guessed, I'm about a month behind on the news here! Please accept my apologies. I will try to fill you in piece by piece.

On May the 10th, Joyce went to Montreal to support Michel Dumont. Dumont's conviction for a 1990 rape was overturned in 2001 when the Quebec Court of Appeal found that evidence that established his innocence was concealed during his trial. That included a statement from his so-called victim saying he was the wrong man.

Dumont was badly traumatized in prison; he was afraid to leave his cell because other prisoners beat him up. His incarceration also had an adverse effect on his family when his children were placed in foster care.

Joyce Milgaard asked Quebec Justice Minister, Yvan Marcoux, to compensate Dumont for his suffering. The case reminds her very much of her own son's situation in that it was poorly investigated. Milgaard wants Marcoux to automatically compensate people who have been wrongfully imprisoned, rather than forcing them to go through a lengthy legal process to obtain remuneration.

Sigrid Macdonald

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