Truscott Appeal Live



CBC to televise Truscott appeal live

Last Updated: Thursday, January 18, 2007 | 11:15 AM ET CBC News

The next phase of Steven Truscott’s appeal of his 1959 murder conviction will be broadcast live from the Ontario Court of Appeal, the province’s attorney general says.

Michael Bryant signed off Wednesday on an agreement to allow the CBC to broadcast the upcoming appeal, which starts Jan. 29.

The province is still working on a plan to have cameras in courtrooms, but worked out a special agreement for the Truscott appeal, he said.

“This is very much part of the spirit of opening up our justice system to even more transparency,” Bryant said in an interview with the Canadian Press. “This is the first criminal appeal that will be broadcast.”

All media will have access to a pool feed of the live broadcast from the Truscott hearing, which Bryant said will help the government establish the criteria for permanently placing cameras in the Court of Appeal.

The court could uphold or set aside Truscott’s conviction for the murder of 12-year-old Lynne Harper, order a new trial or acquit him.

Maintains innocence

On Sept. 30, 1959, it took a jury less than six hours to decide that the 14-year-old boy had raped and then murdered Harper, a schoolmate.

It was a hot, muggy evening on June 9, 1959 when Truscott gave Harper a lift on his bicycle near an air force base outside Clinton, Ont.

Two days later, searchers found the girl’s body in a wooded grove near the base.

Truscott, who has always maintained his innocence, was sentenced to death by hanging at age 14, the youngest person ever to receive a death sentence in Canada. His sentence was later commuted to life in prison.

In October 1969, with a spotless 10-year prison record, he was released on parole.

New evidence

Truscott took a new name and began life again in Guelph, Ont., where he worked as a millwright, married and raised three children.

He lived there anonymously until March 2000 when CBC’s The Fifth Estate broadcast a documentary about his case with new evidence showing that the police case was incomplete and that evidence and testimony that should have been heard at the trial was not.

In 2002, the federal government ordered a judicial review of Truscott’s case. It concluded that a miscarriage of justice had likely occurred, although it drew no conclusions about his guilt or innocence.

Based on the review, then justice minister Irwin Cotler referred the case to the Ontario Court of Appeal.

The Crown has conceded it would be impractical to retry Truscott after so much time has passed, as many of the witnesses called in the original trial have died and some evidence has been destroyed.
With files from the Canadian Press

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