Milgaard Inquiry

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Condensing the news: a "sloppy" week

I've been away for several days, so I'm behind on my articles. To make life easier, I'm going to condense the remaining events from last week.

1. Neil Boyd, criminology professor from Simon Fraser U. reviewed Milgaard's case, along with a doctoral student of his back in 1991. They concluded that David's hippie lifestyle and pot smoking worked against him and his friends in the eyes of the police and the media.

2. Criminologist Kim Rossmo, Boyd's former student, testified on Wednesday that the initial forensic analysis in the Miller case was "sloppy." According to Betty Ann Adam, Rossmo said: There was "a huge amount of semen" found on Miller's uniform that was not found by the RCMP in their lab in 1969; he called this a "tremendous oversight."

3. David Asper, Milgaard's former defense lawyer, stated that Milgaard supporters were "sloppy", the Canadian Press stated. Apparently, Milgaard's lawyer Hersh Wolch received information from Michael Breckenridge who had been an employee in the attorney general's office. Breckenridge claimed to have delivered files about Milgaard and Fisher to prosecutor Serge Kujawa in 1971. However, an RCMP investigation later revealed that Breckenridge didn't work for the department during that period of time and determined that his allegations were not substantiated.

Meanwhile, David Milgaard, Joyce Milgaard and Hersh Wolch accused the attorney general's office of being involved in a coverup at a news conference in August 1992; they then requested a public inquiry.

Asper, who worked with Wolch, said he wasn't part of the decision to make those allegations public.

Sigrid Mac

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Milgaard Questioned Reality

During the videotaped session that David Milgaard made in March, which was played at the inquiry on Monday, Milgaard said that there were times in prison when he really began to question reality. He spent a lot of time in solitaire and became depressed and confused. There were moments, he said, when he wondered if indeed he had killed Gail Miller.

David's 23 year imprisonment played havoc with his mental health but it did not impair his spiritual life: he displayed no anger towards his traveling companions and friends who had implicated him in Miller's murder. Instead, he referred to them as "victims", according to Tim Cook of the Canadian Press.

Milgaard also referred to some of the cops as "good guys". He was remarkably cooperative and free of bitterness, which should be a relief to Justice MacCallum who had earlier considered Milgaard to have been full of "hubris" when David declared that he could not testify in person at the hearing because the thought made him sick. Looks like the videotaped session was a good compromise for all parties.

Sigrid Mac

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Conflict between Asper and Wilson

The Star Phoenix reported that there was a conflict on Friday between David Asper, Milgaard's former defense attorney, and Garret Wilson, lawyer for former Crown prosecutor Serge Kujawa; apparently their dialogue was heated and both men appeared irritated at times.

Wilson accused Asper of making unfair allegations against Kujawa and his department. He added that Asper could have taken the Milgaard file to Kujawa, and talked to him about David's conviction.

Asper retorted that he had relied upon the Section 690 of the Criminal Code; he also explained that the six years that he had worked for Milgaard were very stressful and that he had to use many different tactics in order to free his client. Asper apologized if any of those tactics had been rash or had hurt others in the process.

At times, the Milgaard camp intimated that Kujawa's office had withheld evidence but Wilson was adamant that Kujawa had not withheld anything.
The inquiry returns on Monday with the long-awaited videotape of David Milgaard, which was taped back in March.

Sigrid Mac
Source -- article by Betty Ann Adam

Charges Dropped against Donald Marshall Jr.

I couldn't find out a lot of information about this case -- Marshall doesn't seem to receive anywhere near as much publicity as Milgaard -- but I did read the other day that the charges against Donald Marshall Jr. were dropped last Thursday on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

Marshall spent 11 years in prison for a murder that he did not commit. He was charged sometime around Christmas of last year with assault and attempted murder against a man with whom he had had "bad blood." But fortunately, Donald's second legal ordeal is over.

Sigrid Mac

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Kim Campbell's Bad Moment

David Asper stated that the turning point in the Milgard case occurred when Justice Minister Kim Campbell ignored Joyce Milgaard's direct and urgent plea that her son's case be reassessed. By watching this clip repeatedly on television, public sentiment began to turn towards Milgaard instead of against him.

Asper also admitted that he had considered using statements that may not necessarily have been true in his 690 application. Taped conversations between Joyce Milgaard and David Asper were made available to the inquiry. In them, Asper said that if witnesses were using false information against Milgaard, it would be all right for the Milgaard Camp to do the same.

However, he said emphatically that that never came to pass. The Milgaard team only discussed this possible tactic but never acted on it. In the end, there were no misstatements in David Milgaard's 690 application.

Sigrid Mac
News source -- The Star Phoenix by Betty Ann Adam

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Milgaard was originally very protective of Larry Fisher's civil rights

According to David Asper, who was David Milgaard's defense attorney, no one was more protective towards Larry Fisher than David Milgaard himself when Milgaard's senior attorney, Hersh Wolch received an anonymous phone tip in February 1990 saying that Larry Fisher's wife was suspicious of her husband's behavior on the day that Gail Miller was murdered.

Even though Fisher was serving time for rape when this tip came in, and David Milgaard had already spent 21 unendurable years behind bars, Milgaard was afraid that public opinion would turn against Fisher if he was criticized by the media before he had the opportunity for a fair trial in the Miller case.

Asper is the only witness scheduled for this week. Next week, David's video will be shown at the hearing.

Sigrid Mac

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Inquiry resumes

David Asper will speak today as the inquiry resumes. David M. will be heard next week on the video he taped in March.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Resurrecting the Truscott case

In 1959 Stephen Truscott was arrested and charged with the rape and murder of his 12-year-old neighbor, Lynne Harper, because he was the last person who had been seen with her. Stephen was 14 years old and always maintained his innocence.

Back in those days, Canada had the death penalty and Truscott was sentenced to hang. CTV reported that he spent four long months on death row before his hanging was "postponed" and his sentence was eventually commuted to life in prison.

Truscott served 10 years, lived a life of relative anonymity for some time and finally contacted the Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC).

In 2005, a judicial review by Justice Kaufman was released, stating that there was insufficient evidence to exonerate Stephen Truscott; however, Kaufman did say that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred in this case. Truscott willingly submitted to DNA tests like Milgaard and Morin, but since the Truscott case is so old, there is very little evidence left. Moreover, it seems as though the physical evidence that did exist was mishandled.

Yesterday, the body of 12-year-old Lynne Harper was exhumed, at the request of Ontario's Attorney General Michael Bryant, in a never-ending quest for definitive information to satisfy the Crown of Truscott's innocence.

Many Truscott supporters were not pleased with this turn of events and felt that it was quite unnecessary. My own opinion is that it is clearly tragic that Harper's parents and family had to endure the pain of this procedure. But if the coroner discovers anything that will conclusively prove Stephen's claims, it will have been worth it. Moreover, the Harpers will be rewarded by growing one step closer to finding out who really killed their prepubescent daughter.

Sigrid Mac

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