Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Jury Questions and Answers Point to Unfair Trial for Mr. Smith

The jurors in the Wilton Smith trial asked some critical questions of the trial judge, Justice Ewaschuk. However, the answers they received in response points to the inescapable conclusion that Wilton Smith did not have a fair trial and that his conviction for first degree murder was and remains a miscarriage of justice.

In an effort to illustrate the unfairness of the trial which resulted in Wilton Smith's conviction for first degree murder I will reproduce verbatim the questions asked by the jury and the answers provided. Where it is helpful to illustrate the unfairness of the trial process I will also quote various statements by the trial judge during his discussions with counsel. In this piece I will focus on two questions. I will in a later piece address the other questions.

by jury:

How did Joseph Pryce Testimony
Came to be found ?

Answer by
trial judge (Justice Ewaschuk):

"There is no evidence in the case as to how the police came to know that Joseph Pryce may have had - may have known something relevant about the case. The only evidence is that Detective Bronson found Joseph Pryce. Joseph Pryce did not call the police. He was surprised at their arrival. That's the answer to number three."

by jury:

At what time in relation to the
murder of Miss Innis did the machete
sharpening take place ?

Answer by
trial judge(Justice Ewaschuk):

"Joseph Pryce's initial testimony here was that he was not sure when the man came with the machete. Next he testified that the man may have come when it wasn't warm out and you needed a jacket. He said it may have been six months before the police arrived on January 6th, 1993. That's the date Detective Bronson interviewed him, January 6th, 1993. Still later he testified that the man came with the machete maybe one to three weeks before he saw the black/white profile of the man on television. That's the evidence."

There you have it. Two crucial questions from the jury and the answers provided by the trial judge. In the next issue I will analyze these answers and some of the comments of the trial jduge during the exchanges with counsel on how the questions will be answered.

Note: This publication is written for the sole purpose of drawing attention on a matter of public importance. Democracy and the rule of law works best when ideas and information is freely exchanged.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mr. Pryce's I.D. Evidence Classic Tunnel Vision Overlooked by Justice Ewaschuk

The lawyer representing the Crown in Mr. Smith's trial called Mr. Pryce as a witness in order to make the connection which the preliminary inquiry judge had previously told the Crown was missing in their case, namely, in an effort to proffer some evidence linking Mr. Smith to the crime. The theory of the Crown's case was that the deceased was killed by a blow to her neck with a sharp instrument. In comes Mr. Pryce to testify that Mr. Smith came into his shop to sharpen a machete. Police then show up at his shop in January 1993 - some four months post commital to stand trial and show him 12 photos and he picks out Wilton Smith "as the man who came in to sharpen the machete."

I have taken the time to review the transcript of this man's evidence. The following is a summary of the key passages:

- Crown counsel asked - "Can you tell me when it is that the accused came in and
sharpened the machete ?

- Mr. Pryce replied - "No, I can't.

- Crown counsel asked - "Now, you told us that when the police officers came
to speak to you that day and they were in the car, that that -- you
didn't know they were coming and you didn't know what they were going to
talk to you about, is that right ?

- Mr. Pryce replied - "I have no idea."

- Crown cousnel asked - "And did you know you were going to be presented with
these pictures ?

- Mr. Pryce replied - "Nope, I didn't know."


- Defence counsel asked - " "So this man was completely out of your mind for
all of this time ?

- Mr. Pryce replied - "Yeah, until I was at work. I was shocked when the
cops came."

- Defence counsel asked - "How long after was it ? You wern't able to tell
Mr. McDermott ?

- The Court (Justice Ewaschuk) - "So we're talking about the police came January 6th...

- Defence counsel - "'93"

- The Court (Justice Ewaschuk)- "'93. and let's assume you saw him on television some time
in March of '92 or a picture..."

- Defence counsel - "My lord, you've put the date to him."

- The Court - "Well, all right. Fine."

- Defence counsel - "I was trying to get his recollection."

- The Court (Justice Ewaschuk)- "Well, he says he doesn't have a recollection. He says he
sees the man on television. He's charged with murder. Now, is that
going to be in dispute ?

- Defence counsel - "Yes, it is, my lord. It's in very grave dispute."

- The Court (Justice Ewaschuk) - "It's not in dispute when the accused was charged."

- Defence counsel - "It's in dispute when this man saw him."

- The Court (Justice Ewaschuk)- "That's right. He says he can't remember. You can try to
help him if you wish. To ahead."

- Defence counsel - " You can't even say if it was March, can you ?

- Mr. Pryce - "No. Like I said, in these thngs I don't keep on track."

- Defence counsel - "You're not saying are you, that this man was in your
shop only a couple of weeks before the police came ?

- Mr. Pryce - "No, no."

- Defence counsel - "Couple months ?"

- Mr. Pryce - Hold on. I can't exactly remember. I know it was - it was a long
time before the cops came cause like I was totally even forget about it."

- Defence counsel - "Totally wiped out of your mind ?"

- Mr. Pryce - "Until they came."

- Defence counsel - "But you did pause for quite a long time considering
whether you'd agree with me when I suggested it was just a couple of months,
right ?

- Mr. Pryce - "Yep."

- Defence counsel - "So it could even have been in the fall of 1992, right

- Mr. Pryce - "Could be. I don't know."


Mr. Pryce did not have a recollection of when he made the observation he testified he made. The trial judge was clearly aware of this as he is quoted in the transcript above on this point. At one point he agrees with defence counsel that his observation could have been made in the fall of 1992. All he is sure of is that he was wearing a coat when the observation was made. In my view, this evidence is so unreliable that it ought not to have been admitted into evidence at all. It is clear that the trial judge's statement in his charge to the effect that - "Obviously, the identification was made at least ten to eleven months after Mr. Pryce had seen the man wit the machete at the machine shop." was prejudicial and improper.

Another serious problem with the evidence of Mr. Pryce is that it simply makes no sense and lacks any air of reality. Det. Bronson just shows up at Mr. Pryce's place of work one day and shows him a photo-line-up containing a picture of a man who supposedly attended at his shop to sharpen a machete some time in the past. No effort is made by the police to determine when the observation is made. No explanation is provided by the police on the important question of how it is that they came to attend at this shop on this day with the photo-line-up.

I am not a jurist. I am not a scholar. I am a mere rights litigation lawyer. Mr. Pryce's own testimony demonstrates that what ever evidence that Mr. Pryce had to offer with respect to Wilton Smith's guilt is highly suspect and in my humble opinion is no evidence at all. This is what this man said in response to questioning from Crown counsel:

Q. "What did Det.Bronson tell you that he was wanting to talk to you about ?

A. "About some murder, about a guy came in to sharpen a machete."

Clearly Det. Bronson knew about Mr. Pryce's "evidence" before he attended to speak with Mr. Pryce. Clearly Det. Bronson had already prepared the photo-line up with Mr. Smith's photo in it before meeting Mr. Pryce. How did Det. Bronson know to go to Micron Screw and speak to Mr. Pryce ? Mr. Pryce did not initiate the contact. You will recall that he was shocked when the police arrived at his place of work.

NOTE: This piece is written for the sole purpose of shedding light on an issue of public importance. Anyone having any information regarding this case is urged to contact the writer at ejguiste.rightslawyer@gmail.com