Sunday, September 12, 2010


Earlier in this series the statement by the preliminary inquiry judge to the the prosecution was shared with you. The judge told the prosecution in no uncertain terms that they lacked evidence connecting Wilton Smith to the murder of Patricia Innis. The proceeding was adjourned for the prosecution to adduce some evidence linking Wilton Smith to the crime. Wilton Smith was in fact committed to stand trial on December 1st, 1992 but the evidence heard at the continuation dates of November 30th and December 1st, 1992 have either been destroyed or lost according to the Ministry of the Attorney General for Ontario.

You will recall as well that the deceased's head was severed with a sharp instrument. No one witnessed Wilton Smith commit the killing.

Police locate Mr. Pryce
two months post committal:

Mr. Pryce works in a store in North York which, among other things, sharpens knives. Police maintain that they attended at his store on January 25th, 1993, showed him some photographs and he identified Wilton Smith as having attended his store to sharpen a machete. Mr. Pryce was called by the prosecution and he testified that a man attended his store to sharpen a machete, he was shown some pictures by the police and he picked out Wilton Smith's as the man who attended at his store to sharpen the machete. As remarkable as it sounds this is exactly how it played out.

Serious and profound
flaws in Mr. Pryce's

Mr. Pryce was unable to elaborate on any specific characteristic of the man he claimed attended at his store to sharpen a machete. In addition and perhaps more significant is that it appears that the man who attended at his store to sharpen the machete did so when Wilton Smith was already in custody for the crime and could not have attended. When questioned by Mr. Smith's lawyer in cross-examination when the man attended at his store he responded that it was six months ago. Six months from January 25th, 1993 would land us in July,1992. The records show that Wilton Smith was arrested on March 11th, 1992 and has remained in custody since that time. He could not have attended when Mr. Pryce says he claims he saw him. It is just impossible.

Ordinarily such effective cross-examination leads to a finding of acquittal. If the star prosecution witness says that he saw the man sharpen the machete in his store when the defendant was in fact already in custody it is an understatement to say that the prosecution case has a serious problem. However, what happens following this brilliant piece of cross-examination soundly calls into question the propriety of Wilton Smith's conviction for the killing of Patricia Innis.

Excerpt from trial judge's(Justice Ewaschuk)
charge to the jury:

"The witness Joseph Pryce testified that the accused
came into his work place, Micron Screw Products in
Downsview, to have his machete sharpened. Mr. Pryce
testified that he had only seen the person with the
machete once before at Caribana and that he did not stay
with him during the whole of the ten to fifteen minutes
the person was there sharpening the machete. Furthermore,
he did not notice a scar on the person's nose and could
only describe him as short and having black hair and black
skin. Notwithstanding those limitations, Mr. Pryce
identified the accused later from a 12 man photo array as
the person with the machete. Obviously, the
identification was made at least ten to eleven
months after Mr. Pryce had seen the man with the
machete at the machine shop."

In relaying the prosecution theory the trial judge made the following statements about Mr. Pryce's identification evidence:

1. "Joseph Pryce is a damning witness against the

2. "Pryce did not know the accused was out on bail
for charges against Miss Innis";

3. "Pryce did not even know Miss Innis";

4. "Yet he was able to pick the accused out of 12
different black men in the photo array";

5. "The machete, of course, was the perfect sharp,
heavy instrument to have caused the single,
clean slash in Patricia Innis' neck. The blow
was so forceful that it severed her cervical

Timing of Mr. Pryce's
machete sharpening sighting
a very live issue:

The question of when Mr. Pryce saw the man who the prosecution maintains was Wilton Smith was a very live issue in the trial. This conclusion is irrefutable from the trial judge's summary of the defence position to the jury. The trial judge stated the following to the jury:

As for Joseph Pryce, his identification of the
accused as the man with the machete is
inherently unreliable. He could not give the
police a detailed description of the man,
detected no accent and saw no scar on the man's
nose. At trial, he showed the length of the
machete as being about 23 inches whereas in his
statement to the police he said it was more than
12 inches long. He was not sure when the man
came in with the machete, but said it could have
been about six months before the police came.
The police, of course, saw Mr. Pryce about ten
months after Miss Innis' death. Furthermore,
it appears that City Pulse did not broadcast a
black-white profile of the accused after his

Prosecution Response:

In the next session you will be provided with excerpts from the prosecution's closing to the jury. You will see how they address the very serious question of the timing of Mr. Pryce's observations. You will also be presented with excerpts from the appeal factum prepared on behalf of Mr. Smith.

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