When her remains were unearthed from a southwestern Ontario grave nine months ago, there was no evidence capable of generating a DNA profile, the 21st-century's benchmark for guilt or innocence. But forensic science — once said to tighten like a vise around Steven Truscott — may be disentangling the legal noose that remains, 47 years after his death sentence was commuted. They believe evidence about the state of Lynne's remains, stomach contents and insect activity on her body could be decisive in his quest to be acquitted. But Crown lawyers contend it should play no part in the Ontario Court of Appeal's ruling.
Larger Smaller At the trial, the Crown's case rested on four main evidentiary "pillars" as follows: The Court of Appeal concluded that all four of these pillars would be significantly weakened, if not entirely destroyed, by fresh evidence if a new trial were held.
The Court's analysis of each of these pillars and the related fresh evidence, stated as succinctly as possible, is as follows. This theory was crucial to the Crown's case because, at about 8 p. There was never any suggestion that Mr.
Truscott could have committed the murder at any time after 8 p. Therefore, based on the Crown's theory, if Lynne had died after 8 p. The Court of Appeal explained as follows: If Lynne was killed some time after the appellant returned to the school grounds at about 8 p. The importance of the evidence of Lynne Harper's time of death to the Crown's case can hardly be overstated.
Penistan, a pathologist who performed the autopsy on Lynne Harper's body. Penistan testified that, based on the contents of Lynne's stomach, the extent of decomposition, and the degree of rigor mortis, he believed that she died before 7: Penistan's trial testimony in light of new evidence from pathologists and a gastroenterologist - one of whom was a Crown witness - all of whom testified that Dr.
Penistan's opinion was unjustified.
The Court also considered additional contemporaneous documents, most notably various versions of Dr. Penistan's autopsy report, which varied widely in their respective estimates as to the time of death, that may not have been available to defence counsel at the time of the original trial.
Penistan's opinion was entirely unreliable. Penistan's opinion that Lynne Harper must have died between 7 and 7: Penistan's opinion would likely be rejected by the trier of fact: Penistan's opinion had ranged from an initial assessment placing the time of death at Absent some plausible explanation for these variations, it seems unlikely that Dr.
Penistan's opinion could be accepted as reliable by a reasonable trier of fact. Indeed, the nature of the changes in his opinion leaves Dr. Penistan's evidence reasonably open to the allegation that his opinion shifted to coincide with the Crown's case against the appellant. Truscott's conviction could not stand.
Having decided that the conviction must be quashed, the Court then went on to consider the three remaining pillars of the Crown's case as well as certain additional evidence in order to determine what the probable result would be if a new trial could be held.
The defence's theory, by contrast, was that Steven took Lynne on the County Road, past Lawson's Bush, to the junction with a local highway. The defence's theory was further that Steven left Lynne at the highway junction, saw her get into a car that had pulled over at the side of the highway, and returned alone down the County Road.
In this regard, a large body of eyewitness testimony was led at trial, much of it conflicting, as to who saw Steven and Lynne - and where and when - on the evening that Lynne disappeared.
The Court of Appeal considered all of the evidence relating both to the Crown's theory and to the defence theory.
This included testimony from the trial, police notes and witness statements from the original police investigation, as well as additional evidence such as visibility tests that corroborated or contradicted certain aspects of the eyewitness testimony. Based on all of the evidence, the Court concluded that it was unlikely that a jury would accept the Crown's version of the eyewitness evidence - namely, that Steven Truscott rode his bicycle with Lynne Harper north on the County Road and turned onto the tractor trail, leading to Lawson's Bush.
Rather, the Court concluded that the jury was more likely to accept the defence's version of these accounts - namely, that Steven rode his bicycle with Lynne Harper north on the County Road, past Lawson's Bush, up to the junction with Highway 8, where he left her, and then returned alone south on the County Road.
While the Court did not conclude that a jury would necessarily accept the defence's theory of that evidence, it did say that the defence theory "fit comfortably" with the totality of the material before the Court: We are satisfied having regard to the material placed before us, that it is unlikely that a jury would be convinced of the Crown's version of the County Road evidence.
The totality of the record suggests significant flaws in each factual cornerstone of that theory. While we do not go so far as to say that any jury would reasonably be convinced of the truth of the appellant's theory of the County Road evidence, we do say that the archival material adds significant force to that theory.
The defence theory fits comfortably with the totality of the material as we now have it. It is reasonably arguable that the defence theory is at least as tenable as, if not more tenable than, the Crown's theory of the County Road evidence.Jun 02, · Steven Truscott; Canada's ever-haunting Steven Truscott murder case lands on the stage (Innocence Lost; Playwrite Beverly Cooper; Soulpepper) decades after year-old Lynne harper was murdered in a small Ontario town: Maija Kappler notes how, in part, Steven Truscott was wrongly convicted - and sentenced to death - on "science that has since.
At the age of 14, Steven Truscott was wrongly convicted of killing his year-old schoolmate Lynne Harper. Five decades later he was exonerated.
Steven Murray Truscott was a popular, athletic teenager who lived with his parents in the southwestern Ontario town of Clinton.
In , at the age of.
“The most enduring tragedy of the Harper-Truscott case is that there will be no closure for the Harper family. There are no websites or organizations demanding justice for Lynne Harper.
There is no monetary settlement for the Harper family to compensate for their half century of suffering. eyewitness evidence as to where and when Steven Truscott was seen on me evening mat Lynne Harper disappeared, which was used by the Crown to establish that Steven must have taken Lynne into the wooded area where her body was later found; the fresh evidence significantly weakened the Crown's case against Mr.
Truscott; Decision of the. For nearly 40 years, the Canadian government had notes and memos buried in its files indicating the case against Steven Truscott was founded on evidence that was "entirely and absolutely wrong" and scientific conclusions that were "not possible," the Ontario Court of Appeal heard yesterday.
Steven Truscott's original lawyers were never told about key evidence, including that the girl he was convicted of killing was a frequent hitchhiker and may have run away from home just before she.