Thursday, January 27, 2011


Steven Truscott

Steven Truscott, falsely accused
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Steven Truscott, a man from Canada was sentenced to death in 1959 for the murder of classmate 12-year-old Lynne Harper. Truscott was only 14 years old when he was found guilty and he became the youngest person ever to sit on Canada’s death row. Later, his death sentence was commuted to to life in prison. In 2007, after review of about 250 fresh pieces of evidence, Truscott’s conviction was declared a miscarriage of justice and he was formally acquitted of the crime. Harper’s family have never agreed that Steven Truscott is innocent of the murder.

Steven Truscott

Steven Murray Truscott (born January 18, 1945 in VancouverBritish Columbia) is a Canadian man who was sentenced to death in 1959, when he was a 14-year old student, for the murder of classmate Lynne Harper. His death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, and he continued to maintain his innocence until 2007, when his conviction was declared a miscarriage of justice and he was formally acquitted of the crime.
On July 7, 2008, the government of Ontario awarded him $6.5 million in compensation.[1]
Truscott was scheduled to be hanged on December 8, 1959; however, a temporary reprieve on November 20, 1959 postponed his execution to February 16, 1960 to allow for an appeal. On January 22, 1960, his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.
On November 29, 2001, Truscott filed a section 690 Criminal Code application for a review of his 1959 murder conviction. Hearings in a review of the Truscott case were heard at the Ontario Court of Appeal.
On August 28, 2007, after review of nearly 250 fresh pieces of evidence, the court declared that Truscott's conviction had been a miscarriage of justice. As he was not declared factually innocent, a new trial could have been ordered, but this was a practical impossibility given the passage of time. Accordingly, the court acquitted Truscott of the murder.[2][3]

On June 9, 1959, 12-year-old Lynne Harper disappeared near RCAF Station Clinton, an air force base that lay south of Clinton, Ontario(roughly 180 kilometres west of Toronto). Two days later, on the afternoon of June 11, searchers discovered her body in a nearby farm woodlot. Harper had been strangled with her own blouse, and raped.[edit]
Lynne Harper

Truscott and Harper attended Grade 7 at the Air Vice Marshall Hugh Campbell School located on the north side of the Air Force base. In the early evening of Tuesday, June 9, 1959, Truscott gave Harper a ride on the crossbar of his bicycle and they proceeded from the vicinity of the school northwards along the County Road. The timing and duration of their encounter, and what happened while they were together, have been contentious issues since 1959.
In court the Crown contended that Truscott and Harper left the County Road before reaching the bridge over the Bayfield River and, in a wooded area beside the County Road (known as Lawson's Bush), Truscott raped and murdered Lynne. Truscott has maintained since 1959 that he took Harper to the intersection of the County Road and Highway 8, where he left her unharmed. Truscott maintains that when he arrived at the bridge, he looked back toward the intersection where he had dropped Harper off and observed that a vehicle had stopped and that she was in the process of entering it. At 11:20 that evening, Lynne's father reported her missing.[4]

[edit]Arrest and trial

On June 12, shortly after 7:00 p.m., Truscott was taken into custody. At about 2:30 a.m. on June 13, he was charged with first degree murder under the provisions of the Juvenile Delinquents Act. On June 30, Truscott was ordered to be tried as an adult; an appeal on that order was dismissed.
On September 16, Truscott's trial began in the then Supreme Court of Ontario in Goderich before Mr. Justice Ferguson and a jury. Steven Truscott was represented by Frank Donnelly; Glen Hays appeared for the Crown. All the evidence presented in court against the accused was circumstantial, and centred on placing Harper's death within a narrow time frame which implicated Truscott. On September 30, the jury returned a verdict of guilty, with a recommendation for mercy. Mr. Justice Ferguson, as was then required under the law, sentenced Truscott to be hanged.
On January 21, 1960, Truscott's appeal, put forth by John G.J. O'Driscoll to the Court of Appeal for Ontario was dismissed. Immediately afterwards the Government of Canada commuted Truscott's sentence to life imprisonment. An application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada was denied on February 24. On that date, Truscott did not have an automatic right to appeal to this court.[4]

[edit]Incarceration and parole

From his arrest until the commutation of his death sentence, Truscott was imprisoned at the Huron County Jail in Goderich.
After the commutation of his sentence he was transferred to the Kingston Penitentiary for assessment and he was incarcerated at the Ontario Training School for Boys in Guelph from February 1960 to January 1963. On January 14, 1963, he was transferred to Collins Bay Penitentiary.
Truscott was transferred on May 7, 1967 to the Farm Annex of Collins Bay Penitentiary. He had an unblemished institutional record. On October 21, 1969, Truscott was released on parole and lived in Kingston with his parole officer and then in Vancouver for a brief period before settling in Guelph under an assumed name. He married and raised three children.
On November 12, 1974, Truscott was relieved of the terms and conditions of his parole by the National Parole Board. He has been gainfully employed and free from any criminal involvement since his release.[4]

[edit]At the Supreme Court: the 1960s

Truscott's case was the focus of considerable public attention. In early 1966, Isabel LeBourdais argued in The Trial of Steven Truscott that Truscott had been convicted of a crime he did not commit, rekindling public debate and interest in the case. On April 26, 1966, the Government of Canada referred the Truscott case to the Supreme Court of Canada. Five days of evidence were heard by the Supreme Court of Canada in October 1966, followed by submissions in January 1967. That evidence included the testimony of Truscott, who had not testified at the 1959 trial. British pathologist Professor Keith Simpson was invited by the Canadian government to review the forensic evidence.[5]
On May 4, 1967, the Supreme Court (Hall J. dissenting) held that, if Truscott's appeal had been heard by the court, it would have been dismissed.[4]
1967, May 4: New forensic evidence was presented on his behalf, and Truscott testified before the Supreme Court of Canada, telling his story for the first time. Truscott and 25 other witnesses testified before the Court. After a two week hearing before the Supreme Court, Canada’s top judges ruled 8-1 against Truscott getting a new trial, and he was returned to prison to serve the remainder of his sentence. The Supreme Court stated that “There were many incredibilities inherent in the evidence given by Truscott before us and we do not believe his testimony.” The joint opinion of Canada’s Supreme Court Justices was: “The verdict of the jury, read in the light of the charge of the trial judge, makes it clear that they were satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the facts, which they found to be established by the evidence which they accepted, were not only consistent with the guilt of Truscott but were inconsistent with any rational conclusion other than that Steven Truscott was the guilty person.” [6]

[edit]At the Ontario Court of Appeal: 2001–2007

Truscott maintained a low profile until 2000, when an interview on CBC Television's The Fifth Estate revived interest in his case. Together with a subsequent book by journalist Julian Sher, they suggested that significant evidence in favour of Truscott's innocence had been ignored in the original trial.
On November 28, 2001, James Lockyer led the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted to file an appeal to have the case reopened. On January 24, 2002, retired Quebec Justice Fred Kaufman was appointed by the government to review the case. On October 28, 2004, Justice Minister Irwin Cotler directed a Reference pursuant to section 693.3(a)(ii) of the Criminal Code to the Court of Appeal for Ontario to review whether new evidence would have changed the 1959 verdict.
On April 6, 2006, the body of Lynne Harper was exhumed by order of the Attorney General of Ontario, in order to test for DNA evidence. There was hope that this would bring some closure to the case, but no usable DNA was recovered from the remains.
Blow flies, maggots and insect activity on Harper's body is capable of raising a "reasonable doubt" whether she died before 8 p.m. – and could suggest she died as late as the next day, although the court said there was no realistic possibility that entomology could have assisted in solving the murder in 1959. However, samples of insects and maggots were collected from the body at the time, and the science has since evolved. By knowing when insects deposit their eggs or larvae on a corpse, experts can estimate time of death.
Also, Karen Daum told police in 1959 that she was looking for turtles in a river when she saw Truscott ride over a bridge on his bicycle, corroborating two other boys who were attacked as liars at the trial. Their statements all supported Truscott's version of events. Daum was not called as a witness in 1959. [7]
Truscott's conviction was brought to the Court of Appeal for Ontario on June 19, 2006. The five judge panel, headed by Ontario Chief JusticeRoy McMurtry and including Justice Michael Moldaver, heard three weeks of testimony and fresh evidence. On January 31, 2007, the Court of Appeal for Ontario began hearing arguments from Truscott's defence in the appeal of Truscott's conviction. Arguments were heard by the court over a period of 10 days, concluding February 10. In addition to the notoriety of the case itself, the hearing is also notable for being the first time that cameras were allowed into a hearing of the Court of Appeal for Ontario.[4]
On August 28, 2007, Truscott was acquitted of the charges. Truscott's defence team had originally asked for a declaration of factual innocence, which would mean that Truscott would be declared innocent, and not merely unable to be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Although they issued the acquittal, the court said it was not in a position to declare Truscott innocent of the crime. "The appellant has not demonstrated his factual innocence," the court wrote. "At this time, and on the totality of the record, we are in no position to make a declaration of innocence."[3][8]
Attorney General of Ontario Michael Bryant apologized to Truscott on behalf of the provincial government, stating they were "truly sorry" for the miscarriage of justice.[9]
Harper's family have never agreed that Truscott is innocent of the murder, and in July 2008 Harper's brother described Truscott's compensation package as "a real travesty" and indicated he would not inform their father for fear the news would upset him.[10]

[edit]Cultural aspects

The plot of Ann-Marie MacDonald's 2003 novel The Way the Crow Flies is based on a fictionalized version of the Truscott case, and the surrounding community's reaction to the incident. MacDonald herself was raised in the same region, during the same time period as the Truscott case.
In protest of the harsh sentence, notable Canadian writer Pierre Berton wrote a poem, Requiem for a Fourteen-Year-Old.
Canadian rock band Blue Rodeo recorded a song about the case, "Truscott", on their 2000 album The Days in Between.
Laurier LaPierre, co-host of a CBC news show, This Hour Has Seven Days, was fired after shedding a tear in response to an interview with Truscott's mother, Doris. LaPierre's reaction – quickly wiping away tears under one eye and speaking in a shaky voice – infuriated CBC president Alphonse Ouimet. The president, already a critic of Seven Days, took it as proof that LaPierre is "unprofessional."[11] The popular show was cancelled, and the other co-host, Patrick Watson, also fired over the incident.[12]
A play called Innocence Lost, written by Beverley Cooper and based on Truscott's conviction, was featured at the Blyth Festival Theatre inBlyth, Ontario during the summer 2008 season. The play was remounted again in the company's 2009 season.

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As his 80th birthday approaches, a look at the life and legacy of the late Ray Charles.

"I just do what I do." That's what Ray Charles told Billboard in June 2002 when asked to assess his role in music history. Of course, Charles' self-effacing response belies a groundbreaking career and a legacy that endures today, as fans look toward celebrating what would have been the legendary artist's 80th birthday Sept. 23. Looking back at Charles' storied career, what comes to mind is the phrase "musical genius." In Charles' case, that's no hype.

Rare & Unseen Ray Charles Photos | Charles on the Charts

80th Birthday Year Events | Charles Charity

In 1954, the artist's melding of gospel and blues yielded the pioneering hit "I've Got a Woman"-and forged an indelible imprint on R&B, rock and pop. His earthy, soulful voice graced a steady stream of classics after "Woman," including "Drown in My Own Tears," "What'd I Say," "Hit the Road Jack," "Unchain My Heart," "I Can't Stop Loving You" and "Georgia on My Mind."

Video below: Ray Charles performs "Hit The Road Jack" in São Paulo, Brazil on September 22, 1963.

Video below: Ray Charles performs "Then I'll Be Home" in Montreux, Switzerland on July 19, 1997.

Just as at home on the Hammond B-3 organ as he was on the piano, he also landed at the top of Billboard's R&B, pop, country and jazz charts-and even the dance chart, collaborating with childhood friend Quincy Jones and Chaka Khan on "I'll Be Good to You."

His final recording, 2004's "Genius Loves Company," made history when it won eight Grammy Awards, including album and record of the year for his pairing with Norah Jones on "Here We Go Again."

But what many may not know is that the inimitable Charles was also a genius when it came to the business side of music. In the early '60s he negotiated a rare feat after leaving Atlantic Records to sign with ABC-Paramount: ownership of his own master recordings. He also established his own labels. Tangerine (his favorite fruit) came first, which later evolved into CrossOver Records.

A songwriter who penned nearly 200 songs, Charles also operated his own publishing companies, Tangerine Music and Racer Music. For these entities, Charles and longtime manager Joe Adams designed and built the RPM International office and studios on Washington Boulevard in Los Angeles. The Ray Charles Memorial Library will open in the building this fall.

Charles also found time to manage the careers of other acts, including Billy Preston and '70s R&B group the Friends of Distinction. And way before it was de rigueur for artists to do, Charles set up what became a foundation to help needy children with hearing disabilities and later on support education.

He was an amazing human being," says Jones, 77, who became friends with Charles when both were scrappy teenagers in Seattle. "A true innovator who revolutionized music and the business of music," he adds. "Growing up, we only had the radio; no Michael Jackson, Diddy or Oprah. So it was hard to imagine today's entrepreneurial world. But that didn't stop us. We spent a lot of time talking and dreaming about things that brothers had never done before."

"He really was a genius," says singer Solomon Burke, a former Atlantic labelmate. "He did things the way he wanted."

Charles was born Ray Charles Robinson Sept. 23, 1930, in Albany, Ga. As many learned through actor Jamie Foxx's Academy Award-winning portrayal in the 2004 film "Ray," Charles became blind by age 7 and orphaned at 15 while growing up in northwest Florida.

In eight years at a state school for the blind, the young Charles learned how to read and write music. Leaving Florida in 1947, he headed for Seattle ("Choosing the farthest place he could find from Florida," Jones says), where he notched his first hit two years later as a member of the Maxin Trio, "Confession Blues."

Even then, Charles was an enterprising individual. "He had his own apartment, record player, two pairs of pimp shoes, and here I am still living at home," Jones recalls with a laugh. "His mother trained him not to be blind: no cane, no dogs, no cup. His scuffed-up shoes... that was his guide and driving force. He was the most independent dude I ever saw in my life. Ray would get blind only when pretty girls came around."

Signing with Atlantic Records in 1952, Charles as a West Coast jazz and blues man recorded such songs as "It Should've Been Me" and label co-founder Ahmet Ertegun's composition, "Mess Around."

Then he connected in 1954 with "I've Got a Woman," which set off a chain reaction of more hits capitalizing on his bold gospel/blues fusion. But Charles was just getting started. In 1958, he performed at the Newport Jazz Festival, accompanied by a band that featured such jazz cats as saxophonists David "Fathead" Newman and Hank Crawford. Further bucking convention, he recorded "The Genius of Ray Charles," a 1959 release offering standards on one side (including "Come Rain or Come Shine") and big band numbers on the other, featuring members of Count Basie's orchestra and several arrangements by Jones.

Video below: Charles' 1966 Coke commercial, "So Tired."

Leaving Atlantic for ABC-Paramount, a fearless Charles recorded the seminal "Genius + Soul = Jazz" album in 1961. A year later, his earlier dabbling in country music grew serious with the release of the million-selling "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music."

Complemented by lush strings and a harmony-rich choir, he scored with covers of Don Gibson's "I Can't Stop Loving You" and Ted Daffan's "Born to Lose"-and spent 14 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

For a black man to do this in 1962 was unheard of," says Tony Gumina, president of the Ray Charles Marketing Group, which handles the late artist's licensing affairs. "He was trying to sell records to people who didn't want to drink from the same water fountain as him. But this was one of his greatest creative and business moves: to not be categorized musically and cross over. Though he never worried about it, he was resigned to the fact that he might lose some core fans. But he thought he'd gain far more in the process."

Gumina was operating his own promotion company working with state lotteries when he met Charles in 1999. The two teamed up on a series of commercials for various state lotteries and also introduced a line of Ray Charles slot machines also accessible to the blind.

"Everything he did had a business acumen to it," says Gumina, who cites Charles' liaison with manager Adams as a pivotal turning point. Originally hired to be Charles' stage announcer, former radio DJ Adams segued into overseeing production of the singer's shows, lighting and wardrobe.

Together the pair designed and built Charles' L.A. business base, RPM International (Recording, Publishing and Management) studio. When he began recording there in 1965, the label rented the studio from him, so he made money on his recordings before they were even released.

To save money on travel expenses, Charles purchased an airplane to ferry his band around to gigs. A smaller plane was also acquired so that Charles could wing in to, say, New York to record a couple of songs before flying back out in time for a show.

"He understood the entertainment business enough to know that you may not be popular forever," Gumina says, "and you need to maximize your product. At the same time, he had as much fun as any rock star but without the sad money stories. There was a time to work and a time to play, and he knew the difference. He didn't have a bunch of homes or a large entourage. That's why he was able to save $50 million before he died."

Calling Charles an "incredibly smart man," Concord president John Burk says he learned a lot from the ailing singer while he was recording his final studio album, "Genius Loves Company."

Video below: Ray Charles performs "It Ain't Easy Being Green" in Trentnton, NJ on Nov. 7, 2002.

Going through "some sticky deal points, he was amazing," Burk recalls. "He had the whole agreement in his head. Without referencing any material, he knew all the terms we proposed and had the deal done for the album in two discussions."

Creatively, Burk says Charles was an artist dedicated to delivering "a true performance from the heart. Part of his creative legacy was his approach to singing. He opened the door to vocal improvisations, changing how people perceived you could sing a song. Many singers today are influenced by him and they don't even know it."

Rare & Unseen Ray Charles Photos | Charles on the Charts

80th Birthday Year Events | Charles Charity


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