Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
March 2, 2015
Supreme Court to rule on conviction of Candace Derksen slaying
By: Mia Rabson
Mark Edward Grant is seen being interviewed in a screen capture from police video. Grant remains in custody awaiting the outcome of the Supreme Court hearing.
OTTAWA – The Supreme Court of Canada will rule Thursday on whether to reinstate the conviction of murder for the man accused of killing Winnipeg teenager Candace Derksen.
The court heard arguments on the appeal in November.
Mark Edward Grant was convicted of killing Candace in 2011. But that conviction was overturned in 2013 by the Manitoba Court of Appeal, which said evidence of a similar case to Derksen’s should have been admitted during Grant’s trial.
The Manitoba crown appealed to the Supreme Court to have the conviction reinstated.
Derksen was abducted in 1984, bound with rope and left to freeze to death in a shed. The case went cold for years. In 2007 Grant was arrested based on DNA evidence found on the rope used to bind Derksen.
Most of the appeal surrounded whether or not Grant received a fair trial because the trial judge refused to allow evidence of the second case to be presented. That case involved a 12-year-old girl who was found in an abandoned boxcar, tied up with rope, nine months after Derksen’s killing. The girl was found by a witness who is now deceased.
The victim, now an adult, testified under oath as an adult that the incident had actually never happened.
Crown attorney Ami Kotler told the Supreme Court in November the evidence gathered in the case did not show clear links to the Derksen murder and to allow the jury to hear the evidence was too risky. Kotler suggested allowing in evidence with such flimsy connections doesn’t meet established legal tests and could mean an accused could try to bring in evidence of cases with no clear connection to their own, but for which they have an alibi.
He said the two biggest alleged connections – the discovery of the same brand of gum wrapper in both locations and the knot used on the rope bindings – are not actually legitimate. The gum was found in different ways and the rope bindings were completely different, even if there was some similarity in the type of knot used, said Kotler.
Grant’s lawyer, Saul Simmonds, told the court common sense dictated there were clear ties between the two cases including the age of the two girls, the fact there was no apparent motive for the crime, the fact neither were sexually or physically assaulted, were left fully clothed, and were left tied up with rope in an isolated location pretty close together.
Simmons also said he had two additional reasons for the conviction not to be reinstated, including faulty DNA testing and juror bias.
The Crown denied either was the case.
Grant remains in custody awaiting the outcome of the Supreme Court hearing.
If the court agrees with the appeal court to overturn Grant’s conviction, Manitoba Justice will have to decide whether to hold another trial or let the case drop.