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Call for Release of Falsely Convicted
September 13, 2005 permalink
Every moral panic breeds its own brand of experts supporting its excesses. Here is another article on the work of Dr Charles Smith, who has found so many cases of child homicide that his opinion is now suspect.
Group says murder convict is innocent, calls for release
The Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted said Tuesday that Canada has another wrongful conviction case - a man was convicted of raping and killing a four year old Ontario girl in June 1993, but it now seems that the girl died of natural causes.
The group wants Bill Mullins-Johnson to be let out of prison on bail while Ottawa decides how to deal with what they said is the latest name on a long list of miscarriages of justice.
James Lockyer, director of the association, said: "Once again we have a man who's spent a lot of time in jail -- 12 and-a-half years in his case -- not just for a crime he didn't commit, but for a crime that never happened."
Mullins-Johnson of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., was convicted of first-degree murder in 1994 for sodomizing and strangling his four-year-old niece Valin Johnson in June 1993.
The conviction was based on what his backers call a "rush to judgment" by pathologists, who testified Valin had been chronically sexually abused and strangled or smothered. Their findings were backed up by Dr. Charles Smith, a Toronto pathologist whose conclusions in dozens of child deaths are currently under review.
Smith -- who until recently was with Toronto Sick Kids hospital -- told Mullins-Johnson's 1994 trial there was clear evidence Valin was killed while being anally raped, something no one who did the actual autopsy had detected. There was no semen or other DNA evidence to support that finding.
Now, Dr. Michael Pollanen, a top pathologist with Ontario's coroner's office, and a British expert, have both concluded Valin was not abused, sodomized nor strangled, they believe she died of natural causes.
Lockyer wants federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler to quash the conviction and order a new trial or, at the very least, refer it back to the Ontario Court of Appeal.
On Tuesday in Toronto, Lockyer said Canada needs an independent tribunal to review claims of wrongful convictions such as one set up in the U.K. eight years ago. It has already found more than 50 murder convictions were unjustified.
Lockyer said: "All we have now is a sort of a piecemeal examination of a case here and case there primarily brought forward by our organization. It's just not good enough."