Milgaard Inquiry

Friday, November 25, 2005

Testimony by Rick Pearson

The Star Phoenix reported that Sergeant Rick Pearson told the Commission that there was not any concrete or specific physical evidence in the murder of nursing aide Gail Miller. Pearson was involved in the original investigation; however, he wrote up a report in 1992 suggesting that the evidence pointed more towards Larry Fisher than David Milgaard. He told the inquiry that the main reason that he still suspected David despite these indications that Fisher may have committed the crime was that David had been convicted.

That goes to show how very hard it is for police, prosecutors and the public to change their opinion once a guilty verdict has been rendered. I know that when I was working for David back in the early nineties, many people -- including my relatives -- thought that I was sadly misguided. As a society, we certainly do place far too much faith in our institutions; whatever happened to the dissidents from the sixties? Have they all become Volvo Soccer Driving Moms, living in the suburbs?

Sigrid Mac

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Kim Campbell's embarrassing error

I'm not really sure why this news is being reported now but the Edmonton Sun just reported that former Prime Minister, Kim Campbell, rejected Milgaard's original application for appeal back in 1991. The Sun quoted her as having said these regrettable words at the time: "No guilt or suspicion of guilt can be attributed to Fisher in the absence of some form of evidence linking him to the crime."

Well, hindsight is always 20/20, but most of us living in Canada who were following David's plight at the time can still picture that chilling television clip of Kim Campbell dismissing Joyce Milgaard and telling Joyce not to directly approach her; that was played over and over again on TV, making the Justice Minister at the time look extremely coldhearted. I'm sure that Campbell never wants to hear the word "Milgaard" again!

Anyway, I can only presume that this ancient history is being discussed at the inquiry this week, which is why I keep getting Google alerts about it.

Sigrid Mac

Monday, November 21, 2005

This just in!

According to CBC news, Milgaard may agree to testify in a limited fashion at the inquiry. CBC was quoting the Commission's lawyers. That's a switch. Stay tuned for further updates.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Don't execute Stan "Tookie" Williams!

Stan "Tookie" Williams is scheduled to be executed in California on December 13. He was arrested and convicted of gang-related charges and the murder of four individuals. Tookie admits to being involved in the gang but has always maintained his innocence in terms of the killings.

His supporters are asking that his sentence be commuted and changed to life in prison without parole. Doesn't sound like an unreasonable request to me, especially considering the fact that Tookie turned his life around in prison. He started writing children's books and has been nominated for Nobel Piece Prizes. His life story has been played by Jamie Foxx in a movie called Redemption -- showing this movie in Toronto school systems could help to decrease gang violence, according to Toronto hip-hop activists.

Capital punishment is inhumane. It's morally wrong, it's disproportionately applied to people of color -- did I mention that he was black? -- and we are fortunate that we don't have the death penalty here in Canada. Numerous studies have shown that a large percentage of people on death row have had their cases overturned on appeal. (Read the article on capital punishment by the former governor of Illinois in my Archives section.) We can't afford to be executing the innocent.

Please follow Tookie's case at\/. Sign the guestbook and protest this injustice. For more about the "Save Tookie" clemency petition signed by teachers, professors, juvenile correctional officers and law enforcement officials around the world, visit the new website, or in Canada e-mail:

Sigrid Mac

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The big meeting with Milgaard, the psychologist and the lawyers.

On Thursday, David Milgaard met with the inquiry lawyers in the Vancouver office of his psychologist, Joel Grymaloski. Betty Ann Adam of the Star Phoenix reported that the meeting lasted for several hours and that David's defense attorney, Hersh Wolch said that the discussion was "friendly and positive."

It remains to be seen as to whether or not Justice Edward MacCallum will subpoena David to testify despite allegations by his psychologist that David's post-traumatic stress condition could be greatly damaged by cross-examination.

Commission counsel, Doug Hodson, will apprise MacCallum of the details of the meeting and the Judge will decide whether or not David will be called to testify when the inquiry resumes on Monday.

Sigrid Mac

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Caldwell's reputation

Former prosecutor, Bobs Caldwell, claims that his reputation has been severely damaged by accusations that he was involved in a cover up in the Milgaard case. He says that people that he's known for years have stopped speaking to him and Caldwell maintains that he was never involved in any wrongdoing in the original trial.

Hard to know how to interpret that. On one hand, Caldwell firmly believed in David's guilt, therefore, it's hard to fault him for contacting the Parole Board or aggressively prosecuting his case. OTOH, Caldwell was aware of the Fisher rapes and somehow never put one in one together, or so he says.

Sigrid Mac

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

" Acrimonious"

Katherine Harding of the Globe and Mail reported today that Justice McCallum made this comment at the inquiry yesterday: "Demanding and receiving a public inquiry and then refusing to be a part of it -- even as a witness -- is in my view an abuse of the privileges of standing." Apparently, the judge said that if he had known from the get-go that David had not planned on being a part of the proceedings, he might have conducted the hearings differently and not permitted certain questions to be asked of various witnesses.

Harding quoted Lorne Sossin, the Associate Dean of law at the University of Toronto and an expert on public inquiries, who said that the "acrimony" and "sense of adversarial posturing" between the commission and the Milgaard camp may undermine the "moral authority and credibility" of the inquiry and its recommendations. This is definitely the sense that I get from talking to insiders and I'm sure that it's the feeling that all of us have by reading current newspaper reports.

It seems as though MacCallum misunderstood David's intentions during his press conference. When I spoke to Win Waher at AIDWYC about 10 days ago, she told me that David had received permission to use the inquiry room to hold his press conference -- he got that permission from MacCallum's people but apparently, it wasn't passed on to MacCallum himself, who seems to think that David was deliberately trying to undermine his authority.

Nothing could be further from the truth. It was a bold move for Dave to speak out and he did it MAINLY to urge the governments to compensate two other wrongly convicted men -- Ronald Dalton and Michele Dumont. Dave did not barge into the inquiry room in order to announce that he wanted nothing to do with the inquiry. That would have been ridiculous. However, it was probably not prudent of him to make a public announcement about his desire not to testify before he had privately conveyed this information to his own lawyers and Justice MacCallum.

It is hard to see where things are going at this point. We'll have to wait until after the 19th to see what's been resolved regarding the demand for David to testify.

Sigrid Mac

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

MacCallum grants Milgaard an extension

Justice Edward MacCallum had previously said that today was David Milgaard's deadline in order to decide whether or not he was going to testify at the inquiry. Lawyers for Milgaard presented Judge MacCallum with a psychiatric letter, stating that testifying would "damage David's mental health." (CTV news.)

Consequently, MacCallum has extended the deadline. David now has until November 19, a crazy day, considering the fact that it's a Saturday. At that time, the Milgaard lawyers will meet with the commission people to decide whether or not it is relevant to have David at the hearing and how to proceed from here.

It's a mystery to me as to why a psychiatric letter is not sufficient to prove that David cannot testify at the inquiry . Guess that's why I'm not a lawyer!

Sigrid Mac

Sunday, November 06, 2005


According to the Star Phoenix News roundup from November 6, David has until Tuesday to decide whether or not he will testify in one way or another -- i.e. directly or indirectly. I'm sitting on the edge of my chair regarding this one. Very suspenseful and the outcome will have major consequences for the inquiry itself.

Sigrid Mac

Friday, November 04, 2005

All the news that's fit to print

Here's a general recap of the news today:

Caldwell conceded that his actions may not have been appropriate regarding Milgaard's Supreme Court trial in 1992. According to the Star Phoenix, Bobs Caldwell wrote the federal justice department, intimating that Joyce Milgaard's description of David's conviction was not accurate.

Caldwell's letter to the Justice Department was written several years before David was exonerated by DNA in 1997, thus, Caldwell was still convinced of David's guilt despite retractions from Ron Wilson and Nicole John. The former prosecutor admitted that he may have used "bad judgment" in that letter.

In addition, Caldwell admitted that he wrote to the National Parole Board whenever Milgaard applied for parole, recommending against it. In those letters, CBC News reported, Caldwell "describes Milgaard as a killer with a long history of criminal behaviour." Hersh Wolch, David's lawyer, asked Caldwell why he would've thought that Dave had a criminal past when in fact he had none.


One. Thanks to the efforts of the Winnipeg AIDWYC and lawyers, James Lockyer and Al Libman, Kyle Unger will be released on bail from a Manitoba prison after serving 13 years in jail for first degree murder. What took so long? DNA evidence from last year showed that Unger couldn't have committed the crime.

Two. Here in Ontario, NDP Leader Howard Hampton demanded that Premier McGuinty call a public inquiry into questionable actions of pathologist Dr. Charles Smith. Smith is the former head of pediatrics at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto; 44 of the autopsies that he performed are currently under investigation.

You will remember that Smith was the pathologist in the Mullins-Johnson case. A mother by the name of Louise Reynolds was also accused of killing her 7-year-old daughter, based on an assessment by Dr.Smith. Later on, the charge was dropped after specialists determined that the girl died from fatal dog bites. Meanwhile, Louise Reynolds spent two years in pretrial custody.

The Ontario Attorney General, Michael Bryant, did not embrace the notion of a public inquiry for wrongdoings associated with Charles Smith's medical examinations. Bryant wants to wait until the present review of Smith's cases has been completed.

Sigrid Mac

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Role of Craig Melnyk

Caldwell's testimony continued this week with a discussion about Craig Melnyk. Melnyk was 17 years old when he and another friend were hanging out with David and his friends in a motel room. The news was on and there was a reference to Gail Miller's murder. David said something like, "Oh, yeah. I did that," and proceeded to mimic what might have happened that day. At least, that's the way Dave described the incident to me years ago when I asked him about it.

We have to remember that it was the sixties and all of the kids were high that night. Also, David was a very good-looking teenager. He was popular and liked to be the center of attention. He was a joker and all he was trying to do was to be FUNNY. One stoned kid at a party in a motel is not likely to anticipate that his black humor might come back to haunt him if his friends decide to gang up and accuse him of murder!

Melnyk had already been arrested and convicted of armed robbery at the time that he was brought in to testify at the Milgaard trial. Interestingly, he is thought to have received the shortest sentence for such a crime in the history of Regina. Coincidence? You tell me.

Read more about it at the Star Phoenix at

Sigrid Mac

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Former Prosecutor "Shocked" to Discover Milgaard's Innocence

The main witness at the inquiry this week is Bobs Caldwell, David's original prosecutor. The Star Phoenix reported yesterday that Caldwell was "shocked" when he learned that DNA evidence completely exonerated Milgaard from the crime. Up until that moment, he had been convinced that David was guilty. However, after he heard about the DNA, Caldwell said that he apologized to Milgaard and his family and joined them in calling for the present inquiry.

Still no word on my end as to whether or not David will testify in one form or another -- i.e., by video -- but I'll let everyone know what's happening as soon as I find out. If anyone should hear before me, please feel free to post an announcement here. Many thanks.

Sigrid Mac

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