The CBC posted a fascinating article recently Jacques Delisle didn't murder his wife, forensic experts tell CBC. CBC's the fifth estate was investigating the claims by the former judge that he was not guilty of murder, despite being found guilty by a jury in 2012. During their investigation, the fifth estate spoke to multiple experts who all concluded it was a case of suicide based on:
- the gun's angle
- the bullet trajectory
- gun powder burns
At this point, an appeal may not be possible, but "Convicted prisoners in Canada who have lost all their legal appeals are allowed by law to make a direct appeal to the federal justice minister, asking the government to re-open the case."
Overall, this was a case where the Crown Attorney had a perfect motive for Mr. Delisle - money. They argued he was having an affair with his wife and he would lose a million dollars in a divorce settlement.
My biggest question is why is it only now, after a conviction, that forensic and ballistic experts are looking at the evidence and providing their conclusions? Why wasn't this done during the police investigation or during the prosecution of the case? It is likely because of tunnel vision. The police and the Crown Attorney develop a theory of the case and then they look for evidence that confirms the theory and discount or ignore evidence that contradicts the theory. It is part of human nature but can, unfortunately, lead to wrongful convictions even though the police and the prosecutors have noble intentions.
I wrote a paper in law school for a course on Miscarriages of Justice called "Can’t Let Go: Why ethical prosecutors cannot acknowledge a miscarriage of justice." I looked at cases where DNA exonerated several people and how the prosecutors (mainly in the United States) still adamantly believed they were correct and the person was guilty. In this case, the Crown Attorney, Charles Levasseur seems that he may be suffering from tunnel vision as well because he "remains convinced Delisle pulled the trigger."
About the author
Michael Dyck is a partner at Rees & Dyck Criminal Defence. He represents clients primarily from Winnipeg, Steinbach, and rural Manitoba. He has extensive experience helping people charged with criminal offences and focuses on building legal strategy with clients. To read more of his articles, please visit his partner's website TomRees.ca.