Photo: Canadian Press
David Milgard was filmed after a press conference held by Innocence Canada on October 9, 2019 in Toronto.Canada Press / Chris Young
David Milgard, Canada’s most notorious false accusation victim, died in a hospital in Alberta after a brief illness. He was 69 years old.
James Rocky, a Toronto-based lawyer who worked closely with the case and helped establish the advocacy group Innocence Canada, confirmed his death after talking to Milgard’s sister on Sunday.
His loss is “catastrophic to the family,” Lockyer told The Canadian Press.
Milgard was charged with rape and murder of Saskatoon’s nursing assistant Gale Miller, who was stabbed early in the morning of January 31, 1969 and left to die in the snow, and was only 16 when unfairly convicted. I was old.
He spent 23 years in prison until he was released in 1992.
In his later years, Milgard raised awareness of tort convictions and demanded action on how Canadian courts would consider convictions.
“I think it’s important to recognize that torts have been convicted, not only for lawyers, but also for the general public, and that these people are now sitting behind the bar and trying to get out. “He said. 2015.
“We need to change the policies that maintain them. The tort review process has miserably failed us all.”
Lockyer said he and Milgaard met with Justice Minister David Lametti in Ottawa about two years ago to promote the establishment of an independent body to consider allegations of tort convictions.
“David’s Legacy now implements it, calls it the Milgard Act, passes it, and gets its independent court. We don’t have it yet, but perhaps this spurs the Ministry of Justice. I’ll call it to keep it going, “he said in an interview on Sunday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s power of attorney to Rametti in December 2019 was independent “to make it easier and faster for people who may have been unfairly convicted to review their applications.” The establishment of the Criminal Cases Review Committee is listed as a top priority. The purpose is repeated in his power of attorney after the federal elections last fall.
Lockyer said it was up to Lametti to “move” the creation of the committee.
“They owe it to David Milgard, and they owe it to false convictions across Canada.”
Lockyer said at a meeting in 2020 that the minister had asked Milgaard to sign a copy of the Tragically Hip album featuring the song “Wheat Kings” inspired by his case.
Milgard and his two friends were passing Saskatoon on a road trip when Miller was killed.
A year later, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.
A 17-year-old woman, one of the youngest prisoners, was raped and attempted suicide. He was also shot by police while attempting a prison break.
“It was a nightmare. People don’t have much love and care inside those walls,” Milgard said in 2014.
Milgard was released in 1992 after his mother, who fought relentlessly to reveal her son’s name, asked the Canadian Supreme Court to hear the case. He was finally exonerated in 1997 after the High Court reversed Milgard’s conviction and DNA tests proved that the semen found at the crime scene did not match him.
A man named Larry Fisher was convicted of first-class murder in 1999 for Miller’s death, sentenced to life imprisonment, and died in 2015.
Lockyer said Milgaard’s deceased mother, Joyce, was “her own hero.”
“Milgard has given us a lot. They have given Canada as much as any family could have given it to Canada,” he said.
The Saskatchewan Government has made a formal apology to Milgard and awarded a $ 10 million compensation package.
The state also spent $ 11.2 million on a hearing for Milgard’s tort conviction. The final report, published in 2008, contains 13 recommendations for reforming prosecution and crackdowns in Canada. Among them was a proposal for the federal government to establish an independent review board to investigate allegations of tort convictions.
Milgard leaves two teenage children.
Lockyer visited Milgard at his home in Calgary about six weeks ago, stating that “he was always happy himself” and talked about the need for an independent committee and the current allegations of tort conviction in Canada. Did.
When he heard about Milgard’s death on Sunday, Rocky said he was leaving a British Columbia prison where he was just visiting with a woman alleging tort conviction that Milgard mentioned him. Told.
“There is a legacy as David intends to continue what he wanted of me.”