Mike on Crime http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/mcintyre/mike_on_crime.html Wed, 05 Sep 2012 19:19:00 GMT Failing Phoenix - Face To Face With Her Killers http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/mcintyre/mike_on_crime.html?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=c67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81&plckPostId=Blog%3ac67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81Post%3a2dfb4af7-1524-4155-8dbc-6673411bf9bc&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Wed, 05 Sep 2012 19:19:00 GMT <p> Phoenix Sinclair was clearly failed on many levels. A public inquiry which began this week in Winnipeg is now tasked with finding out exactly where things went wrong - and what can be done to prevent future tragedies.</p> <p> But look beyond several levels of bureacuracy and you'll find where the ultimate responsibility lies - with the two parents who were supposed to love and care for her.</p> <p> Instead, Samantha Kematch and Karl McKay treated the little girl in the most cruel and despicable way imaginable.</p> <p> Both have refused to participate in the public inquiry as they serve life sentences with no chance of parole for at least 25 years.</p> <p> But the pair had plenty to say when I sat down seperately with them, behind bars, shortly after their first-degree murder convictions in December 2008.</p> <p> Their words still ring as hollow today as they did back then.</p> <p> ***</p> <p> <strong>SAMANTHA KEMATCH</strong></p> <p> I failed her," Samantha <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span> says, her eyes cast downward and showing a hint of tears.</p> <p> "She never deserved any of this to happen to her. She deserved better."</p> <p> It is the first public show of remorse from <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span>, who displayed no tangible emotion during her month-long trial, and made no apologies in her brief and bitter final remarks before being sentenced on Friday.</p> <p> <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span> wants the public to know she's not some heartless automaton.</p> <p> "You guys can sit there and say I have no feelings. Well, everyone shows their emotions in different ways. Not everyone cries. I'm one to hold their tears," <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span> says.</p> <p> "I'm not the type to freak out. I control my crying. But I hurt inside."</p> <p> Saying sorry isn't the only reason <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span> is speaking out. She wants to explain her courtroom comments, in which she told the judge that people will likely "never know the truth" and accused her former lover, McKay, of wrongly taking her down with him.</p> <p> "I didn't kill my daughter, I didn't do these things to her like everyone says I did," <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span> says.</p> <p> "What did I do to her? I loved her."</p> <p> Jurors were told during the trial they could find McKay and <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span> guilty of murder based on acts of commission or omission, which likely applied more to <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span>'s role in the tragedy.</p> <p> Admitting she's "not the best parent in the world or anything," <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span> insists she was powerless to stop an abusive McKay from slowly taking Phoenix's life. And she paints herself as a victim as well, claiming McKay would often take out his anger on her.</p> <p> "I tried to stop it. That's where I failed. I failed her, I failed myself. But I tried to stop (McKay) from doing things to her. I would even take a beating so she wouldn't take it," she says.</p> <p> In a videotaped interview with police, McKay said <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span> treated Phoenix "like an animal."</p> <p> "She really disliked the girl from since I met her," he said in the police videotape.</p> <p> McKay admitted that he would administer "a licking" to Phoenix's bottom occasionally, but denied wrongdoing, saying it was <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span> who abused her the most, refusing to give her food, constantly yelling at her and insisting she remain in the basement.</p> <p> McKay told police that once they realized Phoenix was dead, they took her body back to the basement. He said that <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span> instructed him to wrap Phoenix's body in a sheet of polyvinyl, taped it tightly and then wrapped an old yellow raincoat around her before driving to the reserve dump and burying Phoenix in a shallow grave.</p> <p> McKay said that when they returned home, <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span> was obsessed with removing any trace that the child had been there. He said she initially wanted to return to the dump site to chop off the child's head in the belief that would eliminate DNA evidence.</p> <p> He said <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span> later told him to scrub the basement floor with bleach to remove blood and other stains, and he later painted the entire floor.</p> <p> On Sunday, <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span> had this to say: "I get so frustrated. He's only trying to make himself look good. I loved Phoenix and I cared for Phoenix. He's just sitting there, denying that he did anything."</p> <p> She admits to having thoughts about attacking McKay in the witness box they shared during the trial. Those thoughts intensified after Friday's verdict and led to a sheriff's officer having to sit between them.</p> <p> "I was really angry, I was shaking," she says.</p> <p> Under questioning Sunday, <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span> admitted she passed up many opportunities when she was alone with Phoenix and could have fled the home, call police, contact a friend or family member or take the injured girl to a hospital.</p> <p> "If I could go back and change all of this from happening, I'd do it in a second. A lot of people don't understand how these kinds of relationships work. The relationship was abuse, controlling, possessive. When you're in an abusive relationship it's not like you can just get up and leave. It's not easy to walk away," she says.</p> <p> Jurors heard about McKay's violent past, which includes convictions for beating the mother of his two teenage sons, who went to police in 2006 to report what they'd witnessed happening to Phoenix inside the Fisher River home.</p> <p> The boys were key witnesses for the Crown and described McKay and <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span> as equal partners in abusing Phoenix, which included frequent beatings, making her sleep naked in the cold basement, confining her to a makeshift pen, shooting her with a pellet gun, refusing to let her use the bathroom and making her eat her own vomit.</p> <p> On Sunday, <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span> admitted she was strict with Phoenix at times, but claimed McKay did all the physical damage.</p> <p> One of the most damning pieces of evidence against <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span> was the fact she tried to hide Phoenix's death by pretending another little girl was her daughter during a meeting with child welfare officials.</p> <p> "I didn't want to go and pass off someone else's kid to hide the fact she was gone. It was (McKay's) idea to start doing s--t like that," <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span> says.</p> <p> "I wanted to tell them about this but he said no."</p> <p> She says McKay was also behind her registering for child benefits in Phoenix's name, even after the girl had been killed.</p> <p> <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span> says Phoenix would still be alive today if McKay, a longtime friend of her mother, hadn't entered their lives. He began asking her out after they met in December 2003.</p> <p> "I didn't really want to go out with him. I was single and I wanted to enjoy it for a while. Plus he was so much older than me (20 years)," <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span> says.</p> <p> She eventually agreed, and the pair went on to have two children together prior to their arrest in March 2006.</p> <p> "(Before McKay), Phoenix and I were good. We laughed, had fun, we'd play. We'd say we loved each other, hug each other. That was life for me and Phoenix before he came into the picture," she says.</p> <p> Being convicted of her daughter's killing is just the latest in a long line of tragedies for <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span>.</p> <p> When she was a child, her alcoholic father died after falling down a flight of stairs. Her oldest brother committed suicide in Swan River when she was 12. She and her two other brothers bounced around in foster care because their mother was unfit to care for them. She only finished her Grade 9 and has a spotty employment history. She admits she had problems with drugs and alcohol in the past.</p> <p> <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span> says the reality of her conviction hasn't hit her yet. Barring a successful appeal, she isn't eligible for parole until 2031, when she will be 50 years old.</p> <p> "I don't really feel like it's happened yet. I guess I'm feeling mixed emotions about it. I feel better in a way that this case is done so that (Phoenix) can rest," <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span> says.</p> <p> "But of course I'm going to appeal. This isn't right."</p> <p> ***</p> <p> <strong>KARL MCKAY</strong></p> <p> <font class="doctext">Karl McKay knows his words will likely ring hollow -- but that isn't stopping the convicted killer from speaking out about his role in the death of five-year-old Phoenix Sinclair. </font></p> <p> <font class="doctext">"I know I'm the most hated person in this province and probably the whole country," McKay told the Free Press Thursday in an exclusive print interview at the Winnipeg Remand Centre. </font></p> <p> <font class="doctext">"(Phoenix) didn't deserve this. It was a tragedy. I'm so very sorry. I can't turn back the clock. I just wish it never happened." </font></p> <p> <font class="doctext">McKay said he wanted to set the record straight about his feelings toward Phoenix and allegations made against him by his former lover and co-accused, Samantha <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span>. </font></p> <p> <font class="doctext">Jurors found McKay and <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span> guilty as charged last week, handing them automatic life sentences with no chance of parole for at least 25 years. The pair had been seeking convictions on the reduced charge of manslaughter. They are both expected to file appeals. </font></p> <p> <font class="doctext">It was revealed during the month-long trial how Phoenix was repeatedly abused and neglected for several months, ending with her death in June 2005 inside a home on the Fisher River First Nation. McKay and <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span> then buried her body near the local garbage dump and hid the death months before McKay's two teenage sons went to police in March 2006. Police were eventually led to the burial site by McKay.Phoenix's remains were found there once the ground thawed. </font></p> <p> <font class="doctext"><span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span> spoke out first earlier this week, telling the Free Press she loved Phoenix but was powerless to save her from the controlling, abusive McKay. She denied abusing Phoenix and claimed McKay was the real culprit. </font></p> <p> <font class="doctext">"That's BS," said McKay. </font></p> <p> <font class="doctext">"Samantha hated Phoenix. I know this because I was around. She's just trying to clear her name." </font></p> <p> <font class="doctext">McKay, a long-distance trucker by trade, claims Phoenix was always terrified when he'd hit the road and leave her alone with <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span>. McKay said his biggest mistake was staying in a relationship with <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span>, who he claims was responsible for Phoenix's death. </font></p> <p> <font class="doctext">"I should have listened to my heart and not her," he said. "I can't imagine a mother would be that evil." </font></p> <p> <font class="doctext">McKay denied <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span>'s claims that he was physically abusive towards her, noting there are no records of police reports. McKay admits he has abused other women in previous relationships but said he was a different person back then, largely because of excessive alcohol use. </font></p> <p> <font class="doctext">"People change, people can change overnight. I was a drinker back then, I had many binge blackouts. But that was then, this is now," he said. </font></p> <p> <font class="doctext">McKay admits his own two teenage sons provided key evidence at trial against him, including claims that he would frequently hit Phoenix with his fists and other objects, force her to sleep naked on a cold basement floor, shoot her with a pellet gun for fun and confine her to a makeshift pen he built. Under his lawyer's advice, McKay declined to talk about the testimony of his sons or why they'd say things he claims are untrue because of the likelihood of an appeal. </font></p> <p> <font class="doctext">He said it was also <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span>'s idea to pass off a young relative as Phoenix once child-welfare officials began investigating the case. He said <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">Kematch</span> was "white as a ghost" when she realized the truth was about to emerge and was desperate not to have her other two children by McKay taken from her. </font></p> <p> <font class="doctext">McKay said he is happy a provincial inquest will be held into Phoenix's case. </font></p> <p> <font class="doctext">"People, in general, should love their children. This is a wake-up call to love your child," said McKay."I just don't want this to happen to another child. It's just not right." </font></p> <p> ***</p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> Blog:c67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81Post:2dfb4af7-1524-4155-8dbc-6673411bf9bc Judge Ray Wyant explains his decision to "jump the joint" and impose jail http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/mcintyre/mike_on_crime.html?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=c67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81&plckPostId=Blog%3ac67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81Post%3a3b18bb41-ee7c-4393-a8b5-93eb4e699bf3&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Wed, 11 Jul 2012 19:13:00 GMT <p> <strong>Manitoba provincial court judge Ray Wyant has turned some legal heads by refusing to endorse a joint-recommendation and sending convicted drunk driver Jesse Friesen to jail. (Full story <a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/Judge-warns-gloves-are-coming-off-as-he-sends-drunk-driver-to-jail-162079335.html">HERE</a>)</strong></p> <p> <strong>Wyant went into great detail explaining his decision in court. Here is a detailed synopsis of Wyant's reasons from the court transcript.</strong></p> <p> <em>It’s not easy to send someone to jail in a situation where they are not in need of such correction personally and where, as here, the potential to be a productive and law abiding member of society is high. But this is not just about Mr. Friesen. It’s about the issue of his behaviour and these circumstances and I what I find in this case to be the primary principal of deterrence and denunciation. </em></p> <p> <em>I want the public to know that in imposing a jail sentence on Mr. Friesen, I am sending a message, and a warning, that the gloves are coming off when it comes to these types of cases of drinking and driving. </em></p> <p> <em>Driving a car while impaired is like holding a loaded gun. The potential for death and injury is great. And if you choose to drink and drive, even as a first offender, you run the risk of not only losing your licence and your car and your money and getting a criminal record. You now run the risk of losing your job and your liberty. </em></p> <p> <em>I want the people who think they can flout the law and risk injury and death to know that as a society this behaviour cannot be tolerated. This isn’t just a social issue, it’s a criminal issue.</em></p> <p> <em>As we hit the height of the summer season and more and more people will hit the roads and highways of our province on vacation, I want them to be able to feel a measure of safety that their lives will not be at such extreme risk at the unexpected risk of an impaired driver. </em></p> <p> <em>So for the people who sit at their cottages at Lake Manitoba beaches, or Grand Beach or Victoria Beach or Gull Lake or Falcon or West Hawk, or wherever they may be, it is unacceptable and criminal to have alcohol in their system when they head out on the highways to and from their cottages at any time. And that goes for anyone, rural or urban, who thinks they are invincible or immune to the consequences of their behaviour. </em></p> <p> <em>If we can save any life, if we can save the families and the children of our province who have the right to expect to be safe on our roads, by sending a message to those who would drink and drive, then some good will come of this decision, I hope. </em></p> <p> <em>We must take all reasonable steps to reduce the senseless carnage on our roads and highways. Yes, fines are normal when no injury or death occurs. But jail is an option. </em></p> <p> <em>To the argument that because fines have always been the case, so it should be the case, I say no. If that were to be the situation, then the law would never move, it would be static. And courts have always moved the bar when circumstances call for it. There is no absolute right for a fine in these cases.</em></p> Blog:c67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81Post:3b18bb41-ee7c-4393-a8b5-93eb4e699bf3 Candace House http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/mcintyre/mike_on_crime.html?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=c67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81&plckPostId=Blog%3ac67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81Post%3a1ae0341c-01ac-48dd-99ac-f4a67aeccec2&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Tue, 03 Jul 2012 20:25:00 GMT <p> <span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">The criminal justice system can be a very cold and intimidating place for victims and their loved ones.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Now a prominent Winnipeg family is hoping to change that - and they need your help.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Cliff and Wilma Derksen were thrust into the media spotlight after their 13-year-old daughter, Candace, vanished without a trace while walking home from school in November 1984.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">A massive police and public search followed, culminating in the tragic discovery of Candace's body in January 1985. And while her mysterious slaying disappeared from the headlines for more than two decades, it remained on the minds of many Manitobans.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Huge advancements in the field of forensic science led to a suspect who was arrested and then convicted of second-degree murder following a high-profile trial last year. Mark Grant is now serving a life sentence behind bars but has filed an appeal that has yet to be heard.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">The Derksen's, and their legion of family members, friends and supporters, spent every day of the two-month trial in court, followed by three agonizing days waiting out the jury's verdict.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">It was not a pleasant experience. But they are now working towards some major changes which would help others who find themselves in similar situation.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">The result is <a href="http://www.candacehouse.ca/" rel="nofollow"><strong>"CANDACE HOUSE", </strong></a>a new safe haven of sorts for victims of serious crime and their families. The Derksen's want to open the new facilility near the downtown Winnipeg courthouse by the fall of 2013, providing a one-stop shop for support services, information and encouragement.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">They will also work in conjunction with the existing Manitoba Organization for Victim Assistance (MOVA).</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">The Derksen's have already secured a $16,000 fund through the Winnipeg Foundation but there is much work to be done. As such, they have set a fundraising goal of $500,000.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><strong>The next big step occurs this Saturday July 7 with the 1st-ever "CANDACE DERKSEN FAMILY FUN DAY." </strong></span></span></p> <p> <img src="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/5/0/454206d8-983d-4b20-900e-d7578cb5bfb2.Large.jpg?0" /></p> <p> <span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">The e</span></span><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">vent is being held at the Fort Garry Community Centre, beginning at 4:30 p.m., and w</span></span><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">ill include a number of grea</span></span>t activities: games and entertainment for the children, a performance from "Sagkeeng's Finest" fresh off their <em>Canada's Got Talent </em>victory, a barbecue dinner, door prizes and a silent auction which includes 2 tickets to the sold-out Justin Bieber concert in Winnipeg.</p> <p> <span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">I'm proud to be MC'ing this event, and hope to see many of you out there. I've <a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/entertainment/books/Respect-sensitivity-for-Candace-family-136479223.html">written extensively about the respect and admiration I have for the Derksen family</a>, who have remained so strong despite the cruel hand they were dealt. I also had the honour of telling their story in my true crime book, <a href="http://www.amazon.ca/Journey-Justice-Project-Cracked-Candace/dp/1926531132/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1341345291&sr=8-1" rel="nofollow">"JOURNEY FOR JUSTICE", </a>which was released last winter.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">It's clear the journey is still ongoing for the Derksen's.</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><strong>Tickets for this Saturday's big event are just $20, while all children under 6 are free. But don't delay, as they are limited and going very fast. You can call <span><font color="#000000">255-2757 or email </font><a href="mailto:info@candacehouse.ca" rel="nofollow">info@candacehouse.ca</a> to get yours now.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span>If you can't make it but still wish to support this worthy project, go to <a href="http://www.candacehouse.ca" rel="nofollow">www.candacehouse.ca</a><a href="http://www.candacehouse.ca/" rel="nofollow">.</a></span></span></span></p> <p> <br />  </p> Blog:c67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81Post:1ae0341c-01ac-48dd-99ac-f4a67aeccec2 Getting away with murder? http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/mcintyre/mike_on_crime.html?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=c67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81&plckPostId=Blog%3ac67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81Post%3a703386f2-975f-4e00-9983-cfee0286f19c&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Tue, 19 Jun 2012 19:13:00 GMT <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-indent:0cm;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">Garrett Gamble did something quite rare this week: He walked into court to deal with a murder charge. And left with a murder conviction on his record. (Story <a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/Winnipeg-man-gets-life-sentence-for-fatal-shooting-of-bystander-159454645.html">HERE</a>)</font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-indent:0cm;">  </p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-indent:0cm;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">As we showed you this past weekend in a detailed analysis of all Winnipeg murder cases since 2007, the majority of them are being reduced to manslaughter or even something less as a result of the dreaded "plea bargain." (Story <a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/getting-away-with-murder-159286705.html">HERE</a>)</font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-indent:0cm;">  </p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-indent:0cm;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">In fact, Gamble is the 81st person to dispose of his Winnipeg murder charge in the past 5 years. But he is only the 32nd person to actually be convicted of murder - and be given the automatic life sentence that comes with it. </font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-indent:0cm;">  </p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-indent:0cm;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">That means just 40 % of all Winnipeg murder charges since 2007 have ended with murder convictions.</font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-indent:0cm;">  </p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-indent:0cm;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">Despite Gamble's conviction to 2nd-degree murder, there was still an element of plea bargaining involved as the Crown backed down from the original 1st-degree murder charge - and the mandatory 25 years until parole eligibility that comes with it. They found a happy medium with Gamble's lawyer, agreeing to raise parole eligibility from 10 to 18 years on the 2nd-degree charge.</font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-indent:0cm;">  </p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-indent:0cm;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">Several people in the justice system spoke candidly in our story about how murder cases are being handled, </font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-indent:0cm;">  </p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-indent:0cm;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">Defence lawyer Greg Brodsky admitted many of his clients are literally "getting away with murder" and that such charges are often used as "bargaining chips" to put the Crown in a difficult position of either accepting a reduced plea or fighting the case at a trial which could take years and has no guaranteed outcome. Brodsky said these sorts of deals are a necessary evil because the overworked, slow-moving justice system couldn't handle every case going to trial. </font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-indent:0cm;">  </p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-indent:0cm;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">Retired Winnipeg police homicide cop James Jewell said the price of life in Canada has become very cheap and that "murder in Canada is discounted at a completely unacceptable premium."</font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-indent:0cm;">  </p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-indent:0cm;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">There are many other factors in play here, including the reality that many of the homicides being committed in Winnipeg do not meet the relatively high legal standard needed to prove murder. That is, the blur of drugs and alcohol often make it difficult to prove someone had the necessary intent to kill which is required by law.</font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-indent:0cm;">  </p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-indent:0cm;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">I've updated and expanded my statistics with the Gamble case now included, and will continue to periodically do so on this blog.</font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-indent:0cm;">  </p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-align:center;"> <strong><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">WINNIPEG MURDER BY THE NUMBERS - SINCE 2007</font></strong></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;">  </p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <strong><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">NUMBER OF PEOPLE CHARGED WITH MURDER WHO HAVE DISPOSED OF CASES – 81</font></strong></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">12 Originally charged with 1st-degree murder - 15 %</font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">69 Originally charged with 2nd-degree murder - 85%</font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;">  </p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <strong><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">OUTCOME OF THOSE 81 CASES </font></strong></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">8   Convictions to 1st-degree murder - 10%</font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">24 Convictions to 2nd-degree murder - 30%</font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">38 Convictions to manslaughter -  47%</font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">11 No conviction to any charge - 14%</font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;">  </p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><strong><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">DETAILED BREAKDOWN OF THOSE 81 CASES</font></strong></font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><strong><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">1ST DEGREE MURDER– 12</font></strong></font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">8 convicted of 1st degree (3 adult, 5 youth)</font></font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">2 convicted of reduced charge of 2nd degree (2 adult)</font></font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">1 convicted of reduced charge of manslaughter (1 adult)</font></font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">1 discharged at preliminary hearing</font></font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;">  </p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><strong><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">2ND DEGREE MURDER – 69</font></strong></font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">22 convicted of 2nd degree (11 adult, 11 youth)</font></font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">37 convicted of reduced charge of manslaughter (30 adult, 7 youth)</font></font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">2 found not criminally responsible</font></font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">7 stay of proceedings</font></font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">1 found not guilty</font></font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;">  </p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-align:center;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><strong>***</strong></font></p> <p style="text-align:center;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><strong>WINNIPEG MANSLAUGHTER BY THE NUMBERS - SINCE 2007</strong></font></p> <p> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><strong>NUMBER OF PEOPLE CHARGED WITH MANSLAUGHTER WHO HAVE DISPOSED OF CASES - 16</strong></font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><strong><strong><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">OUTCOME OF THOSE 16 CASES </font></strong></strong></font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">6 Convictions to manslaughter (5 adults, 1 youth) - 38%</font></font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">5 Convictions to lesser non-homicide charge - 31%</font></font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">5 No conviction to any charge -  31%</font></font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <strong><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"> </font></strong></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-align:center;"> ***</p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-align:center;"> <strong><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"> </font></strong></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;text-align:center;"> <strong><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">WINNIPEG HOMICIDE BY THE NUMBERS - SINCE 2007</font></strong></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"> </font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><strong><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">NUMBER OF PEOPLE CHARGED WITH HOMICIDE WHO HAVE DISPOSED OF CASES – 97</font></strong></font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">12 Originally charged with 1st-degree murder 12 %</font></font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">69 Originally charged with 2nd-degree murder 71%</font></font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">16 Originally charged with manslaughter - 16%</font></font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;">  </p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><strong><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">OUTCOME OF THOSE 97 CASES </font></strong></font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">8   Convictions to 1st-degree murder (3 adults, 5 youth) - 8%</font></font></font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">24 Convictions to 2nd-degree murder (13 adult, 11 youth) - 25%</font></font></font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">44 Convictions to manslaughter (36 adults, 8 youth) - 45%</font></font></font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">16 No conviction to any charge - 16%</font></font></font></p> <p class="BODYTEXTJUSTIFIED" style="margin:0cm 0cm 0pt;"> <font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Olympian LT Std" size="2">5   Convictions to lesser non-homicide charge - 5%</font></font></font></p> Blog:c67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81Post:703386f2-975f-4e00-9983-cfee0286f19c Judges on the hot seat http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/mcintyre/mike_on_crime.html?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=c67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81&plckPostId=Blog%3ac67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81Post%3a3262edfc-2a79-4f18-ad66-8582de683d02&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Fri, 01 Jun 2012 20:29:00 GMT <p> It's the worst-case for any sitting judge: a criminal suspect you release on bail, against the objections from the Crown attorney, goes on to commit another crime.</p> <p> Unfortunately, this scenario plays out every single day in every single city across the country. The vast majority of cases we never even read or hear about, because most offenders are being released and re-arrested for the types of crimes that typically don't make headlines.</p> <p> Want proof? Just go down to your friendly neighbourhood Law Courts building, pick up a copy of the daily docket and count the number of people who are facing breach-related charges.</p> <p> A few years ago, I conducted an informal study by crunching the Winnipeg numbers over a two-day period. What I found was quite surprising: Nearly <font class="doctext">half of the court <span class="dochighlight" name="dochi">docket</span> included people accused of thumbing their noses at court orders. A total of </font><font class="doctext">261 different accused appeared in court during that short time frane, charged with a staggering 799 total breaches.</font></p> <p> <font class="doctext">The conclusion was obvious: to many, a court order isn't worth the paper it's written on. Of course the issue is far deeper and more complex, as many of these offenders suffering from various social ills (alcohol and drug abuse being at the top of the list) which often result in them failing to stay on the so-called straight and narrow.</font></p> <p> <font class="doctext">But the reality is these high number of breaches create not only a major headache for overtaxed police and justice resources - but they also chip away at the public's confidence in the justice system.</font></p> <p> <strong>And it is for that reason I am often asked the following question: Why aren't judges held responsible for the decisions they make in court?</strong></p> <p> Now, technically they are. A judge can get overturned by a higher court on appeal if they make a decision later deemed unfit or unreasonable. Beyond that, anyone can field a complaint with the Canadian Judicial Council if they have concerns about a judge's conduct. <a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/panel-green-lights-formal-inquiry-for-judge-152470715.html">(As we've seen recently with the case of Manitoba Queen's Bench Justice Lori Douglas)</a></p> <p> But that usually isn't the answer people are looking for. They want to know what kind of sanctions a judge faces when a decision they make comes back to bite them, such as the examples cited above when an accused out on bail gets re-involved.</p> <p> Some have even suggested judges ought to held criminally culpable if an offender does something particularly outrageous after being released, especially if there were warning signs that trouble was brewing.</p> <p> <img height="440" src="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/15/9/4ffef3e7-4f58-4360-8900-f107372e8abf.Large.jpg?0" style="width:466px;height:264px;" width="462" /></p> <p> <strong>It is with this theme in mind that I wrote a particularly controversial episode of the online fictional web series <a href="http://verdictseries.com/" rel="nofollow">VERDICT</a>, a revolutionary interactive social experiment which the "court of public opinion" determines the fate of an accused rather than a traditional judge or jury.</strong></p> <p> VERDICT was launched in April and will continue until mid-July, with a total of 15-weekly trials being held. (See all past and future cases <a href="http://verdictseries.com/cases" rel="nofollow">HERE</a>)</p> <p> A new, 5-minute case is launched every Wednesday at 7 p.m. CST, in which the public is invited to watch legal arguments, key witness testimony and view other pertinent evidence before casting their vote. You can also get involved in the comments section by debating and discussing the issue with other citizen jurors. The actual verdict is then revealed the following Wednesday at noon, along with voting statistics and demographics.</p> <p> The latest VERDICT episode, which launched this week, is written by yours truly and titled <strong>"JUDGE ON THE HOT SEAT." </strong>(Watch the episode <a href="http://verdictseries.com/vote-on-trial/judge-on-the-hot-seat" rel="nofollow">HERE</a>)</p> <p> As you will see, the viewer must decide if veteran judge Christina Strachan has blood on her hands after she grants suspected domestic abuser Eduardo Lopez bail - and he goes on to kill his estranged wife and young son.</p> <p> I'm particularly curious how people will vote on this one, and I suspect it may be fairly close. We will find out on Wednesday. Don't forget to VOTE!</p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> Blog:c67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81Post:3262edfc-2a79-4f18-ad66-8582de683d02 Why didn't the Crown fight against Vince Li's steps towards freedom? http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/mcintyre/mike_on_crime.html?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=c67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81&plckPostId=Blog%3ac67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81Post%3a7abc74c1-39f8-4843-ac0e-a2fe2df53d9e&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Thu, 17 May 2012 20:42:00 GMT <p>It comes as no big surprise that the Manitoba review board has endorsed the recommendations of Vince Li's treatment team and ruled the notorious Greyhound bus killer can begin receiving day passes back into the community.</p> <p>The fact Crown attorney Susan Helenchilde didn't fight against granting Li more freedom during an annual hearing earlier this week certainly helped his case.</p> <p>So the question many are asking is why? Why wouldn't the person tasked with representing the public have done everything in her power to keep Li locked up 24/7 in the Selkirk Mental Health Centre.</p> <p>A few reasons.</p> <p>First of all, that's not Helenchilde's job. As an "officer of the court", she must consider all relevant factors and not simply take a position for the sake of currying favour with the public.</p> <p>Secondly, Helenchilde strongly believes that Li is on the road to rehabiliation and does not pose any substantive risk to the public now that he's been properly diagnosed, medicated and supervised. You may not agree with that, but she is basing her opinion on 2 experts who have spent countless hours working with Li over the past several years.</p> <p>It was stated in court earlier this week - and repeated in my <a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/more-freedom-for-greyhound-killer-151493525.html">STORY </a>- that the experts say Li has a 0.8 per cent chance of violently re-offending in the next seven years, based on studies that have been done on him.</p> <p>In fact, Helenchilde says the odds are even more remote than that. Here's what she told me earlier this week in an e-mail.</p> <p><em>"According to a formalized risk evaluation called the VRAG, Mr. Li falls below the first percentile for risk of violent recidivism. Of those who had scores similar to Mr. Li’s in the formative sample that Dr. Young relied on in her assessment, none reoffended violently in the first 7 years after release and 0.08% reoffended violently in the first 10 years after release. They actually administered a number of risk assessments to Mr. Li and he scored low for likelihood of future violence consistently."</em></p> <p>Faced with those odds, and those experts reports, it's not surprising Helenchilde took the position she did.</p> <p>It may not be the popular one with much of the public, but it is the right one in terms of her legal obligations.</p> Blog:c67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81Post:7abc74c1-39f8-4843-ac0e-a2fe2df53d9e Violence on ice http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/mcintyre/mike_on_crime.html?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=c67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81&plckPostId=Blog%3ac67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81Post%3aa010f5cd-cacb-4ef5-8598-7528e460d08b&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Tue, 15 May 2012 17:42:00 GMT <p> It's the outcome nobody wants to see - but many fear is on the verge of happening.</p> <p> A hockey player, caught up in the high-stakes "win-at-all-costs" emotion of the game, crosses the proverbial line and actually kills an opponent on the ice.</p> <p> We've seen plenty of dangerous cases recently, most notably at the NHL level where the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs were filled with dirty hits and serious injuries such as Marian Hossa being stretchered off the ice.</p> <p> <object data="http://www.youtube.com/v/GAQs8lq6KJ8" height="350" id="ltVideoYouTube" src="http://www.youtube.com/v/GAQs8lq6KJ8" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="450"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/GAQs8lq6KJ8" /><param name="quality" value="best" /><param name="bgcolor" value="#ffffff" /><param name="wmode" value="transparent" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always" /><param name="flashvars" value="playerMode=embedded" /></object></p> <p> We've also seen the ugly side of the game play out at the grassroots level, such as the case I recently covered in which a "beer league" hockey player viciously attacked a referee during a recreational game in Winnipeg. (Read story <a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/attack-on-hockey-ref-nets-jail-time-149968095.html">HERE</a>)</p> <p> As you may know, I'm currently involved in a unique project called <a href="http://verdictseries.com/" rel="nofollow">VERDICT </a>which operates on the following concept: What if the justice system was handed over to the court of public opinion, and a suspect’s guilt or innocence was determined by popular vote?</p> <p> Every Wednesday, a new five-minute episode in launched. You can VIEW the trial, REVIEW the supporting evidence online and, most importantly, VOTE on the outcome.</p> <p> The following Wednesday, the verdict is then revealed in dramatic fashion before the next trial begins.</p> <p> Our most recent trial (#6 of 15), which began last Wednesday, takes that "worst-case" scenario in the hockey world and challenges citizen jurors to decide the fate of a so-called hockey goon who goes too far during a game.</p> <p> There's less than 24 hours left to vote on this case before the verdict is revealed. I'm very curious to see how the public weighs in on this hot-button case.</p> <p> If you haven't yet, watch the 5-minute episode and vote by going <a href="http://verdictseries.com/vote-on-trial/tough-luck" rel="nofollow">HERE</a>.</p> <p> <a href="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/5/13/a516e8a3-075d-4ef7-9d68-193186c86233.Full.jpg?0" target="_blank"><img src="http://pluck.winnipegfreepress.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/5/13/a516e8a3-075d-4ef7-9d68-193186c86233.Large.jpg?0" /></a></p> <p>  </p> Blog:c67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81Post:a010f5cd-cacb-4ef5-8598-7528e460d08b Law and Order In The Court Of Public Opinion http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/mcintyre/mike_on_crime.html?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=c67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81&plckPostId=Blog%3ac67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81Post%3a2caa08a0-e2a4-4826-a18d-977050c4bae7&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Thu, 26 Apr 2012 18:05:00 GMT <p> Put down those pitchforks and tuck away the torches - it turns out allowing the public to have a say in the justice system doesn't automatically lead to roving bands of blood-thirsty vigilantes.</p> <p> A few weeks ago I told you about a unique new online web series I am involved with called <a href="http://verdictseries.com/" rel="nofollow">VERDICT</a>, in which the "Court of Public Opinion" replaces the traditional judge and jury system to decide the fate of an accused.</p> <p> Every Wednesday, a new 5-minute trial is unveiled (along with additional online evidence you can review), and then the viewers is asked to deliver their vote with the click of a mouse. The following Wednesday, the verdict is revealed, along with a statistical breakdown by gender and age, before the case is launched.</p> <p> It's a novel concept, for sure, and one that has seen folks in 42 different countries already weigh in with votes during the first three cases.</p> <p> One of the first comments on my <a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/mcintyre/#plckblogpage=BlogPost&plckpostid=Blog%3Ac67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81Post%3A5cd3aa49-b174-42e7-bf25-36a010da007f">previous blog post about VERDICT </a>read as follows:</p> <p> <em>"Why wait for the next weekly episode ... the mob can just go out on the streets and lynch the "guilty" immediately ... tonight!!! Think I'm going to puke."</em></p> <p> I suspect a lot of people - especially those who spend a lot of time browsing online commentary on various justice-related matters - sharred similar views that giving the public a say in the system would only lead to anarchy.</p> <p> And while it's still early in the VERDICT game, the results of our first 3 trials have been quite revealing.</p> <p> <a href="http://verdictseries.com/vote-on-trial/shooting-stars" rel="nofollow">CASE #1 - "Shooting Stars" - NOT GUILTY - 76%; GUILTY - 24%</a></p> <p> <a href="http://verdictseries.com/vote-on-trial/the-devil-made-him-do-it" rel="nofollow">CASE #2 - "The Devil Made Him Do It" - GUILTY - 76%; NOT GUILTY - 24%</a></p> <p> <a href="http://verdictseries.com/vote-on-trial/boiling-point" rel="nofollow">CASE #3 - "Boiling Point" - NOT GUILTY - 92%; GUILTY - 8%</a></p> <p> So, in 2/3 cases, the accused has walked free by an overwhelming percentage of the votes. In the only case where the person was convicted, the accused admitted he was responsible for a murder but was seeking to be found not criminally responsible.</p> <p> Obviously it's tough to get a read on three fictional cases and what it means. But at the very least, it tells me that the vast majority of citizen are sound, rational thinkers who don't get caught up in emotion or hysteria to make a reasoned decision based on the specific facts of the case.</p> <p> We can see proof of this beyond the make-believe world of VERDICT. Just look at some of the recent real jury trials in Winnipeg.</p> <p> Mark Stobbe, accused of murdering his wife, is found <a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/stobbe-leaves-court-a-free-man-145086095.html">NOT GUILTY</a> by 12 regular citizens and walks out of court a free man.</p> <p> Michel Hince, accused of playing a role in a triple murder, is found <a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/stunning-finish-to-murder-trial-138629784.html">NOT GUILTY</a> by 12 regular citizens and walks out of court a free man.</p> <p> Daniel Peterson, accused of second-degree murder, is found <a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/guilty-of-lesser-charge-of-manslaughter-jury-142592356.html">NOT GUILTY</a> by 12 regular citizens but guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.</p> <p> 3 trials. 5 counts of murder. 0 murder convictions. And not a single one of these trial was decided by a judge. It was 36 members of the public who, upon hearing weeks and weeks of evidence, unanimously agreed they could not convict.</p> <p> Back to the world of VERDICT, we have 12 more episodes to go in our 1st season. The current case is a doozy.</p> <p> "What gives you the right?" is an explosive civil case in which citizen jurors are asked to vote on whether father-to-be Samuel Mason should be granted an injunction to stop his estranged wife Paula Mason from terminating her pregnancy.</p> <p> You can watch the 5-minute episode and vote now by clicking <a href="http://verdictseries.com/vote-on-trial/what-gives-you-the-right" rel="nofollow">HERE</a>.</p> <p>  </p> Blog:c67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81Post:2caa08a0-e2a4-4826-a18d-977050c4bae7 Power to the people: The VERDICT is in http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/mcintyre/mike_on_crime.html?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=c67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81&plckPostId=Blog%3ac67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81Post%3a5cd3aa49-b174-42e7-bf25-36a010da007f&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest Fri, 13 Apr 2012 19:24:00 GMT <p> There are very few things in this world that get the public whipped into a frenzy quite like the current state of the Canadian justice system.</p> <p> Want proof? Just spend a few minutes browsing an online newspaper comment section, listening to news talk radio or viewing the vitriol that fills my daily voice mail and email inbox.</p> <p> One of the common themes - aside from anger - is a feeling that the general public is powerless to bring about any real change.</p> <p> Judges who are appointed for life, weak-kneed sentencing precedents and government bureaucracy are among the common reasons cited for maintaining the status quo.</p> <p> With that in mind, allow me to introduce to you a bold new world, one where the justice system has been dramatically revamped and literally turned over to the people.</p> <p> It's called <strong><a href="http://www.verdictseries.com" rel="nofollow">VERDICT </a></strong>(<a href="http://www.verdictseries.com" rel="nofollow">www.verdictseries.com</a>): an interactive new web series which I'm extremely proud to have played a small role in.</p> <p> Think of Law & Order meets American Idol, wrapped up in social experiment which is meant to challenge the morals and belief systems of all viewers.<br />  </p> <p> <object data="http://www.youtube.com/v/aUPJihV9KNw" height="350" id="ltVideoYouTube" src="http://www.youtube.com/v/aUPJihV9KNw" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="450"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/aUPJihV9KNw" /><param name="quality" value="best" /><param name="bgcolor" value="#ffffff" /><param name="wmode" value="transparent" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always" /><param name="flashvars" value="playerMode=embedded" /></object></p> <p> My role in VERDICT, besides helping as a consultant with Frantic Films for the original series pitch, was to write 6 of the 15 episodes for Season 1.</p> <p> The concept is simple and unique, if not a bit radical: courtrooms are now essentially broadcast centres in which trials are held in full public display and the public decides the fate of the accused.</p> <p> No need to be unanimous. Majority rules.</p> <p> <strong>Here's how it works:</strong></p> <p> A new five-minute case is revealed every Wednesday. After each weekly episode, the public has 7 days to reflect on the evidence (including extras posted on the website), debate the issue and vote online on the verdict.</p> <p> Every Wednesday, just before the new trial begins, the previous week's verdict is revealed complete with a breakdown of voting demographics by gender and age. You can also watch the dramatic reaction by the accused and lawyers.</p> <p> All of the cases tackle controversial and/or hot-button issues (drunk driving, judicial responsibility, violence in sports, defamation, the reach of social media, personal responsibility and culpability).</p> <p> See a full list of all episodes <strong><a href="http://verdictseries.com/cases/upcoming" rel="nofollow">HERE</a></strong>.</p> <p> We launched VERDICT on April 4 with the debut episode "Shooting Stars." Case #2 began on April 11, an episode penned by yours truly which involves the controversial issue of mental illness and criminal responsibility.</p> <p> <strong><a href="http://verdictseries.com/vote-on-trial/the-devil-made-him-do-it" rel="nofollow">WATCH AND VOTE NOW - "The Devil Made Him Do It."</a></strong></p> <p> The early response to VERDICT has been tremendous. We've received plenty of feedback from high school and university educators anxious to use VERDICT in the classroom as a teaching tool and springboard for debate.</p> <p> Several notable local figures have also weighed in on the concept through video blogs, including <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyiKFhmtXao&context=C4d9254cADvjVQa1PpcFOcfwoGNIIDrJ-gYfPwnMD8qSGCfnHO7ss=" rel="nofollow">David Asper</a>, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r721uTT3o_Y&context=C4ce561fADvjVQa1PpcFOcfwoGNIIDrEbEUOQ1fv9ZIZR4SL8mTNU=" rel="nofollow">Charles Adler </a>and <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tXs0-JyZ9c&context=C4aed533ADvjVQa1PpcFOcfwoGNIIDrClDh9Qp6abylTa28YM5GpQ=" rel="nofollow">Arthur Schafer</a>.</p> <p> Our <a href="http://www.youtube.com/user/VerdictSeries" rel="nofollow">VERDICT YouTube </a>page includes interviews with some of our notable actors and guest stars, including official show host <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwdplNzFPEs&context=C4119e40ADvjVQa1PpcFOcfwoGNIIDrBGKlGvVIS8fq2mYBKs_Sjo=" rel="nofollow">Sarah Allen </a>and mixed martial arts legend <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OE8Wlhlxl7U&context=C4fedf06ADvjVQa1PpcFOcfwoGNIIDrCZQyAFrn0EmcjV_syQNyr8=" rel="nofollow">Keith Jardine</a> who will appear in Case #3 beginning April 18.</p> <p> The key to VERDICT, of course, is public participation. Make sure to bookmark the <a href="http://www.verdictseries.com" rel="nofollow">VERDICT website </a>and check out the weekly episodes, additional evidence, comments section and voting results. You can also "Like" the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/VERDICT/248973178506080?ref=ts" rel="nofollow">VERDICT Facebook page</a> and we'd love for you to spread the word to as many family members, friends and colleagues.</p> <p> I'd also love to hear any and all feedback on the series, either through the comments section of the blog or by direct email at <a href="mailto:mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca" rel="nofollow">mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca</a></p> <p> Have fun, get involved...and don't forget to VOTE!</p> Blog:c67a1d6a-1760-43a7-bd1a-d8e3fef41e81Post:5cd3aa49-b174-42e7-bf25-36a010da007f