WINNIPEG — A man tried for a second time in the killing of Winnipeg teenager Candace Derksen more than 30 years ago has been found not guilty.
Mark Edward Grant was charged with second-degree murder in the death of the 13-year-old girl, who disappeared on her way home from school in November 1984.
Her frozen body — feet and hands bound with twine — was found six weeks later in an industrial shed.
Grant, who is 54, was found guilty on the same charge in 2011 and sentenced to 25 years in prison, but the conviction was overturned and a new trial was ordered.
In her ruling Wednesday, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Karen Simonsen said the Crown’s evidence “falls short of the burden of being beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Grant, a man with a long criminal record, was arrested in 2007 following DNA testing on the twine used to bind Derksen.
Grant’s 2011 conviction was overturned two years later when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the trial judge erred in not allowing Grant’s defence to present evidence that pointed to another possible killer — an unidentified person who tied up a 12-year-old girl in another part of Winnipeg in 1985, while Grant was in custody on another matter.
In the retrial earlier this year, court heard that DNA samples had deteriorated in the time between Derksen’s death and Grant’s first trial.
Grant’s lawyer, Saul Simmonds, said in his closing arguments that DNA samples the Crown had relied on were so tiny as to be infinitesimal, and could be from one of the many people who had visited the shed where Derksen’s body was found.
Crown prosecutor Brent Davidson allowed that some of the Dna Evidence might not be reliable, but other DNA tests showed that 99.9 per cent of the population other than Grant would have been excluded.
Simonsen agreed with the Crown and concluded the DNA evidence was flawed.
Davidson also pointed to testimony from Tonia Lachance, a friend of Grant’s ex-girlfriend, who quoted him as saying: “I killed her.” He later followed that with: “No, I didn’t. I’m just kidding.”
Lachance said Grant told her: “Keep your mouth shut or I’ll do to you what I did to Candace.”
The defence called Lachance unreliable.
Simonsen agreed saying the confession was unreliable because the witness waited until 2007 to talk to police.
The Canadian Press
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