Milgaard Inquiry

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A summary of events by CBC

CBC has a wonderful article in their archives section called The Wrongful Conviction of David Milgaard . It's a comprehensive summary with some really good pictures over the years. Check it out!

Sigrid Mac

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Six-week Hiatus

Yesterday, a former radio reporter testified at the hearing. He had previously interviewed one of the people who was in the hotel room when David allegedly reenacted the murder. CBC News claims that "Chris O'Brien said in the early 1980s the woman told him Milgaard's 're-enactment' was a joke, not the confession portrayed during his 1970 trial." That's exactly what David told me years ago.

The inquiry is officially on hiatus for the next six weeks. Thank God. It seems to be taking quite a toll on Joyce and the family; the Globe and Mail said that Joyce was surprised that throughout this entire lengthy process, no one at the hearing has really taken any responsibility for what happened to David, nor have any concrete suggestions for improvement been made.

Now that the hearing is off duty, I will be writing about other things that concern me, such as the brutal shooting of an Hispanic man at the Miami Airport yesterday afternoon. Rigoberto Alpizar, a 44-year-old home-improvement store worker, was on his way home to Orlando from Columbia. His plane connected in Miami and he became quite distraught and agitated. Then he made the fatal error of announcing that he had a bomb in his carry-on bag. Of course, everyone freaked out and the air marshals chased him off the plane onto the tarmac. Meanwhile, his poor wife was sitting on the plane and kept shouting out that he was not well and had gone off his medications.

Rigo lasted about five minutes on the tarmac. He went to reach into his bag and the air marshals felt threatened. They shot him dead. Last night, Anderson Cooper on CNN stated that Rigo Alpizar had a bipolar illness. What a tragedy. Just like the guy in Britain who was shot in the subway station when the bobbies thought that he had a bomb. The police are getting awfully trigger happy during these posts 9/11 days. Can't they be trained to shoot to INJURE or MAME rather than to kill?

If you're wondering how this story relates to the Milgaard Inquiry, police procedure and tunnel minded behavior is at the core of the Milgaard investigation.

Sigrid Mac

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Howard Shannon

Howard Shannon has been testifying this week. Before David's arrest in 1969, he had been selling subscriptions to Macleans magazine, going door to door in Western Canada. Shannon was one of his bosses and he was present when David was arrested. Shannon said that he never believed that David could have committed such a heinous act because he was a nice boy, polite and well mannered, and successful at sales because people liked him.

According to CBC, Howard Shannon paid the bills for Regina lawyer Tony Merchant to represent Dave in the early 1980s because Shannon believed so much in David's innocence. However, Joyce Milgaard began to suspect that Howard had applied for the police reward in the Gail Miller murder. She wrote that in her book, A Mother's Story, which Shannon found very upsetting.

This week Joyce had the opportunity to apologize to Howard Shannon for her misconception. He graciously accepted her words and reiterated that he had always supported David.

Sigrid Mac

Friday, December 02, 2005


Joyce Milgaard was under fire this week when David's former defense lawyer, Tony Merchant, alleged that Joyce had been overly aggressive and may have intimidated witnesses at times. Merchant, who represented David in the 1980s, conceded that without Joyce's relentless perseverance, David may never have been released from prison.

It's hard to define which behaviors are assertive and appropriate and which are irritating or abrasive. Merchant was retained right after David escaped from the penitentiary in 1980 and was living a fugitive existence in Toronto. After several weeks of freedom, Dave was caught and shot in the back by the police. He still has a physical injury from that episode.

Moreover, breaking out of prison seriously decreased David's chances with the parole board -- another group of people who didn't sound too delighted with Joyce Milgaard at the inquiry this week because they were reported as saying that she seemed to have a different agenda for her son at the parole board meetings than he did.

Maybe Joyce was aggressive during certain parts of her struggle. I remember reading in When Justice Fails by Karp and Rosner that at one point Joyce offered to babysit for David Asper's newborn child, so that he could get back on the Milgaard case ASAP!

Sometimes, determination and persistence can grate on other people. But when the stakes are life-and-death or lifetime imprisonment, which was tantamount to a living death in Dave's case, those actions are understandable and justifiable. In fact, it's unfortunate that anyone at the inquiry feels entitled to attack Joyce in this manner. It's stressful enough for her to give up all of her time to follow the inquiry events month after month, and to travel back-and-forth to Saskatchewan to relive this nightmare.

One of the big issues that is looming over our heads right now is whether or not David will have to testify at the inquiry and how that may damage his mental health. (He is expecting his first child in January and all of his energy is being devoted to that upcoming event.) No one has mentioned Joyce's mental health or her age -- although she is a Christian Scientist who is born new everyday, she is no longer the young mother who had boundless energy to devote to her oldest son. I'm sure that she will be tremendously relieved when the ordeal of the inquiry is over.

Sigrid Mac

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