Monday, December 11, 2006

The Milgaard case 

There are three problems with this wrap-up story about the Milgaard inquiry -- problems I fully expect to see repeated in the final report:
In the late 1990s DNA proved that the rapist, Larry Fisher, was indeed the real killer. Fisher had lived in the basement of the home Milgaard was visiting on the morning of the attack.
The inquiry has heard how police originally considered that the then unidentified rapist could have killed Miller, but when one of Milgaard's friends came forward pointing the finger at Milgaard, that lead was never followed through.
Well, it was perhaps a little more than just not following up on a lead.
When Fisher was caught for the Saskatoon rapes a year later, he was put on trial. In Regina. For an inexplicable reason that nobody at all, at all can remember.
And as a result, the Saskatoon media never knew that Larry Fisher existed or that he had raped several women around the same time that Miller was killed or that he lived near the murder scene or that his apartment was in the basement of the house where Milgaard had been visiting that day.
Then there is this:
[Milgaard's lawyer ] Wolch's comments were dismissed by lawyers representing police and prosecutors at the inquiry.
They have consistently "dismissed" the Milgaard side. This has been seen from the beginning as an adversarial proceeding -- two years ago, the Inquiry was almost derailed when it began, in effect, to try to put Milgaard on trial again, just to demonstrate how awfully guilty he looked and how the police and prosecutors really couldn't be blamed for thinking Milgaard was guilty.
And finally, we're supposed to feel sorry for the prosecutors and police, rather than for Milgaard:
Knox called it a "campaign of character assassination." Most of the allegations [of police and prosecutorial targeting] have not been borne out in the evidence brought forward at the inquiry.
Garrett Wilson, the lawyer acting on behalf of Serge Kujawa, the director of public prosecutions who handled Milgaard's original appeal, also took issue with Milgaard supporters and their "shotgun approach" to criticizing justice officials as they tried to get the case reopened.
"That (prosecutors) could be accused of deliberate deception in the conduct of their responsibilities as members of the justice system of Saskatchewan is horrendous, monstrous," Wilson said.
If Milgaard's mother hadn't made her explosive accusations of cover-up and malfeasance, the media wouldn't have played up the story the way they did. And I don't think Milgaard would ever have been freed.
It was Milgaard who spent two decades in jail for a crime he didn't commit. So, no, I don't feel any particular outrage at the "horrendous, monstrous" accusations which the Milgaard supporters made over the years. Comes with the territory, folks.
And we still need an explanation for wisking Fisher down to Regina for that trial.

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