Sanderson’s beating seems so callous and pointless.
But, in some small way, it allows me a small opportunity to offer my apology to the family of a vulnerable man beaten to death in fall 2008 because he didn’t have a smoke to give a passing drunk.
As it is with Sanderson, I had the same dull pit of anger in by gut in the days following the killing of Tim Knudsen outside the Salvation Army — his home.
As I’ve come to learn, some of those who participated in the group beating that ultimately caused the 300 lb. “gentle giant” to suffer a massive brain injury and die remain at large. They know who they are and hopefully they live in shame and torment for their actions.
A week or so after Knudsen died, police arrested two men who ultimately pleaded guilty.
Cyril Raven — who initiated the attack, punched Knudsen, knocked him down and walked away, pleaded to assault cause bodily harm and got a sentence of 190 days time served and two years of probation, which is still ongoing.
Dean Isbister — who joined in and kicked the prone, defenceless Knudsen in the head at least twice — pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a sentence of 638 days time served, plus two years less a day of jail to top it off and three years probation to follow.
They were sentenced June 17, 2010 in front of Judge Marvin Garfinkel.
Their punishments, from what I can tell through news archives, has never been reported.
But more importantly, what was never put on the record is the comments made by Knudsen’s sister, Ann Piekoff, in her statement to the court — and the two men held responsible for the crime.
Ann was kind enough to sit and talk with me back in my Free Press days. Judging from the date of the post of our time together, it was a few months after her beloved brother died.
To hear her talk about how there were no defensive wounds found on her brother’s hands during the autopsy.
I committed back then to seeing the prosecution through, but lost track of it along the line, having switched jobs and responsibilities.
For that, I apologize.
And while I could rail on about what some may call “weak” sentence meted out by the courts for the loss of a good man’s life (however challenged it was) there’s no point. Given conflicting statements given by witnesses at the scene, the Crown was probably lucky to get the convictions it did.
What is important, I feel today, is to remember Knudsen — through the words of his sister as told to Garfinkel.
Here they are, for the record.
Sadly, Tim’s life ended tragically, far too soon, almost two years ago. To understand what we have lost, your Honour, you have to know a little bit about who Tim was and what he meant to me and to his family and friends.
Tim didn’t choose his life, but he lived it the best he could. He had his challenges mentally and physically but he never burdened others with his issues. He was fiercely independent and chose to live on his own in a community where he was accepted and indeed had many friends.
Tim loved the outdoors and often went fishing with his friends from the Booth Centre. He especially loved going to the Goldeyes games or the football games when he had the chance.
Sundays would find him at chapel where he loved music and singing. He had a passion for music — all kinds of music from heavy metal to … gospel.
The last photo we have of Tim is him at a gospel meeting, reading from the Bible.
Even though Tim was independent and wanted to live on his own he was still very much connected to his family.
I had a weekly ritual with Tim.
He would call me on Mondays to arrange a day to come over to visit myself and his two nieces.
He would always come over early so then he could cut my grass or shovel the snow. He would do anything I asked him to.
He loved family get-togethers and celebrations. Even though he didn’t talk a lot, you knew he enjoyed being around our gatherings.
Now, when my parents come to visit, there’s an empty spot at the dinner table. I see the pain and the sadness in my parents’ eyes knowing that Tim won’t be there.
It would be easy to judge or dismiss Tim as a homeless bum based on where he lived and his physical appearance. But Tim was part of a loving family and was loved by us as well as his friends.
Tim was our gentle giant, he was generous to a fault and would never lift a hand against another. The tragedy is he chose to live independently —as was his right— and because of his challenges he was vulnerable.
I was his big sister and I should have been able to protect him but could not.
His death leaves a hole in our lives as it does for his friends and our community.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I and my family don’t think about him.
This, a question asked of me this week by a Crown attorney regarding my presence at a recent court hearing involving a suspected drunk driver.
The case dated back to 2006. In the end, Judge Sid Lerner chose to acquit the 47-year-old man (now of Calgary) of driving while impaired. There were no injuries in the case.
Lerner’s reasons were simple. The Crown’s evidence in terms of identification of the suspect were themselves suspect and “tainted” by the arresting officers.
There was a crash in the North End, and a suspect fled the scene.
Police caught up with him behind his own home and brought witnesses to the scene where they identified the man as the driver.
At the time he was identified by them, he was sitting handcuffed in the back of a cruiser car.
“The unfairness” of the above identification method was prejudicial, Lerner stated.
Police methods “clearly tainted” and had a “contaminating effect” on the identification-investigative process.
UPDATE: Forgot to mention that the ID evidence was tossed even though the suspect had a set of keys a broken light from the car in his possession at the time of his arrest.
During trial — one of the witnesses who stated he got “a decent look” at the driver involved in the crash testified that he was simply describing the accused in court.
As well, the admissibility of statements given to police by the accused was challenged during a voir dire and tossed out.
Both factors contributed to a lost prosecution, one that was set down for trial initially in April 2008, delayed till the next year, and finally wrapped up five years — five years! — after the suspect’s arrest.
Personally, I don’t remember what I had for breakfast (actually I do, it was nothing.) But realistically, how can a witness reasonably be expected to remember finer details of an event (one where things happened in rapid-fire succession) half a decade after they happened?
I’ve said here before that drunk driving cases are among the most hotly litigated simply because the stakes — a criminal record, the loss of one’s privilege to drive and the prospect of public humiliation — are so high for so many.
For many people, it’s worth the cost of a good defence lawyer to delay, delay, delay and ultimately fight the allegations, make Charter challenges about abuse of process, police tactics, etc.
I can point to a number of recent DUI-related cases in Manitoba’s provincial court where these factors loom large.
Some of the violence plaguing north main past the Higgins underpass appears to have migrated south to the area near the Sally Ann and the new WRHA building
The CCTV camera at Main and Henry appears to be to one most likely to catch criminal activity
There’s a growing pocket of crime a block or so south of Salter near Manitoba and Magnus
These maps were embedded in a report on the effectiveness of the WPS’ crime camera pilot project. You can read about what it says here.
The precis version is that technological hiccups may have limited how effective the cameras can be, and there’s [apparently] no conviction results yet (from 2009? really?) to measure if the footage is holding up in court.
The tech. problems prompted State of the City to sagely ask: ” I also don’t get how (police) became responsible for tech risk & maintenance costs in the 1st place.”
Mike McIntyre of the mighty Freep clicked out a tweet today about a story that appeared Sunday in the broadsheet by Sandy Klowak.
The story had to do with the city’s latest homicide victim, Abdul Jemei, and how even in death, he was able to help his family out.
While the stories about Jemei have focused largely on him, his life and his background, there’s been little said about the people accused of killing him, nor (possibly the most unanswered question of all time), why he was killed.
Doing the usual court scan today, I came across the name of the 16-year-old boy who police have charged with second-degree murder for Jemai’s stabbing death.
My heart went cold.
It’s not the first, second nor even third time this kid’s made the news.
I last wrote about him roughly three years ago in connection to a case that had me shaking my head over the two years I covered it. Here’s how it started.
Boy, 13, charged with raping and beating girl
Winnipeg Free Press
Tue Sep 9 2008
Byline: James Turner
A 13-year-old boy accused of raping, repeatedly battering and leaving an Internet “friend” bleeding in a Portage Avenue building has been released from custody.
The boy is charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm after he and the 13-year-old victim — a friend he met on the Internet — had been out drinking and hanging out with other friends downtown.
Early Aug. 8, the two wound up in a stairwell of a downtown building where the boy allegedly made unwanted sexual advances toward the girl. When she refused to co-operate, he is alleged to have dragged her by the legs down two flights of stairs before repeatedly beating her and viciously sexually assaulting her.
He fled the scene. Police found the girl the next morning and took her to hospital.
Crown attorney Victoria Cornick said the girl suffered broken teeth and severe swelling to her face and other parts of her body.
The boy was arrested the same day and confessed in a videotaped statement to police, Cornick said.
The Crown was opposed to his release, arguing he’s a high-risk individual who won’t obey court orders.
The boy’s lawyer blamed his actions and classification as “high-risk” on his upbringing on a northern reserve where kids are largely unsupervised.
“It’s a universal problem in the community,” Bill Armstrong said.
On the night in question, the boy was said to have been angry over others making fun of his “manhood” and bravery when he refused to fight older boys involved in a street gang.
The youth was released on bail last Friday after provincial court Judge Lee Ann Martin ruled that the boy’s CFS group home could properly supervise him while his case is in the courts.
Martin ordered the boy to abide by a curfew, and to have no contact with the victim, possess no weapons and seek treatment for substance abuse.
The boy was ultimately convicted for this crime — and the facts only seemed to get worse — in July 2009.
Nothing like starting the week with a quick re-hash of the last. We all have traditions, tho.
First, a positive, from the University of Winnipeg’s Uniter:
Partnership to provide legal assistance to low-income families
The University of Winnipeg has announced that, in partnership with the University of Manitoba, they have opened the Legal Help Centre in the MacNamara North Building on Spence Street. The centre, staffed by University of Winnipeg Global College and criminal justice students, students from the University of Manitoba’s faculties of Law and Social Work and volunteer lawyers, is part of an initiative to provide legal assistance to disadvantaged members of the community. People with household incomes under $50,000 a year will have access to free legal advice, and the centre also offers drop-in services and workshops.
This, given the area the U of Dub exists in, is a great idea. Even from the position that legal advice will be offered to those in the area, many of whom would likely meet the guidelines for access.
2] Those interested about learning more about Gladue courts can, thanks to the Robson Hall Law Department, watch Jonathan Rudin explain them and what they’ve been able to do for Toronto. The future is now. Check it out.
3] The Province finally announced a public inquiry into the death of Phoenix Sinclair, just when one thought there was no way that was going to happen with an election looming. Even the fine print is promising, with the judge overseeing it being given a sweeping mandate to investigate whatever he sees fit. No dates announced, but justice Ted Hughes’s report must be complete in just over a year from now. Another Sinclair matter (an inquest) — that of Brian Sinclair — is still pending.
How is the Gladue Court Different from a Regular Court?
The Gladue court is of more benefit to an Aboriginal offender simply because a judge must consider two things:
• The unique system or background factors which may have played a role in bringing the offender before the court, and
• The types of sentencing procedures and sanctions that may be appropriate in the circumstances to the offender due to his or her Aboriginal heritage, including the examination of alternative justice processes such as Restorative Justice.
… It is a fact that Aboriginal offenders respond better to a Restorative Justice model which advocates sharing, reparation and a holistic approach rather than the discriminations, adversarial stance and incarceration that is often synonymous with the Criminal Justice system.
What’s interesting to note, as well, is that despite the existence of such courts, it’s appeared to do little to address the reason they were established: gross over-representation. As one of Manitoba’s top judges suggested to The Freep the other day, maybe it’s putting the cart before the horse.
“Do we need to create a specialized Gladue court in Manitoba? We may need to do that here. But it’s not going to be easy,” Chief Judge Ken Champagne of Manitoba’s Provincial Court said.
“Poverty is the biggest issue for aboriginal people in Manitoba. Is a Gladue court going to be able to address that? You also need a lot of resources at the front end: in education, training and social services,” Champagne said.
On another note, it’s refreshing to see a judge saying something in a public forum. In my opinion, too often they’re silent on issues the public cares about.
2] Add to the above this story of a murder trial postponed because of underrepresentation of aboriginal people on the jury. Strikes me that this is a problem here in Manitoba too. Take for example the jury trial of a teen Indian Posse gangster who went on a shooting spree at a Weston-area home, killing three. If I remember correctly, there wasn’t one aboriginal person on his jury either.
3] Couple of major criminal cases went forward with resolutions this week. First, the woman who abducted a baby from a home and slammed it into a sidewalk pleaded guilty. And yes, a Gladue report has been ordered to examine the circumstances of Nikita Eaglestick’s background. Second, a boy who brutally murdered a kid he was babysitting on Little Grand Rapids First Nation was sentenced to the maximum allowable under the YCJA.
Questioned by police, the accused had little explanation for the attack, except to say “he wanted to try it out” and that he “felt nothing” after Tristian was dead.
The accused hauled water from a nearby lake to clean up the murder scene.
“For all the blood-letting that happened … (there was) very little forensic evidence,” Sharma said.
According to a pre-sentence report, the accused told a probation officer “he thought he was going to be able to cover up his crime” and said he “ran out of time and did not do a good enough cleanup job.”
Equally as interesting is the fact the Crown says it was forced to accept a plea deal (and therefore not be able to sentence this guy as an adult) because the investigating officers violated the accused’s rights under youth justice laws by not following proper procedure for young offenders.
I remember a couple of days after the victim was killed I bumped into a Correctional Officer who said the accused had just been brought into Winnipeg. The guard admitted being appalled at what the allegations were against him and indicated the now-convicted murderer was likely insane. I guess now, more than two years later, we have some indication of how true that is.
5]Scared Straight? Teens conducting a break-in and subsequent car theft enter a home where a man was apparently already dead. Maybe they saw him and bolted, maybe they didn’t. A truly bizarre set of circumstances.
6] The more I read over the U.S. court documents regarding the mysterious disappearance of two Winnipeg university students accused of terrorism-related offences, the more it seems like the plot of a spy novel. The most interesting stuff I’ve come across so far are the stories relating to an already arrested co-accused, who the FBI claims travelled to Pakistan and received military weapons and tactical training for jihad from a man named in documents as Yusef. In an unsealed indictment against Ferid Imam, one of the missing students, U.S. prosecutors say he went by the alias Yousef. Lawyers for the arrested man are working to have a long statement he gave to the FBI in January 2010 tossed out on the belief he was represented by counsel and police had no right to question him. No matter what, it’s going to be an interesting case — but one wonders if Imam or Yar will ever be apprehended.
One excerpt from the FBI’s report on a post-arrest interview with the arrested guy [not Imam]:
[He] and the others walked into the hotel, which was about fifteen minutes from the house, and checked themselves in. Again, [he] was asked not to speak to anyone as his English would get them into trouble.
[he] believes this hotel either belonged to, or was associated with the Taliban. [He and two others] were provided with a room that contained only two beds but an additional one was brought in for them. Their room had its own bathroom for their use. There were other men in the twenties who were also staying at this same hotel, but very little talking amongst the men took place.
There was a computer set up in a common area of this hotel where videos of attacks on U.S. troops, different suicide and martyrdom missions, and bombings were shown, During the night, [he and the two others] engaged in an argument. [He] was angry [at them] because they mostly spoke in Pashtun and they did not keep him informed of what was going on, Additionally, they felt as though [he] was a burden on them as his light skin made him stand out and he did not speak the local language. During the night, the three argued loudly in English and [he] punched a wall in anger …
The next day, the group left … and drove for about two to three hours until they arrived at a group of houses. [He] was brought to a house that was owned by a Pashtun man … [He] and the others were introduced to the man, in English as Yusef [ph] … [He] stayed at Yusef’s house for about two weeks, During these two weeks, Yusef provided [him] with both religious and military weapons training. With the assistance of an English speaking Arab, Yusef also provided religious instructions on the rewards of fighting and dying for jihad.
Yusef spoke Pashtu, Arabic and English with a clean American accent. Yusef was approximately 20 years old and was of African descent. In spite of his American accented English, [he] did not know whether Yusef had lived in the west.
A typical day consisted of waking up early to eat since it was Ramadan, praying and receiving classroom-type weapons training. [He] and the others did not spend too much time outdoors in the daytime as there was the fear of a missile strike coming from the unmanned drones that were overhead. These drones could be heard and sometimes seen flying in the skies overhead. They would take shifts throughout the night were each was responsible for guarding the house against an attack.
[He] was trained on the AK-47, the PK machine gun — which [he] referred to as the “peeka” and the rocket propelled grenade launcher. … this weapons training culminated with one day where [he] was brought up in to the mountainous area to fire the weapons. [He] shot thirty rounds from an AK-47 and one rocket propelled grenade at a target on the mountainside. [He] never shot the weapons at U.S. troops, abandoned vehicles, or anything other than the side of the mountain.
7] Finally, it looks as if the USA’s decision to drop escape charges against Ian Jackson MacDonald were tactical in nature. Just a few days after they did so, the once burly MacDonald was wheeled onto a jet in the company of RCMP officers and returned to Manitoba to face drug-conspiracy charges. What’s interesting to me about this is that the Canadian warrant for MacDonald was never wiped off the system as part of “the normal justice process” that takes place that the Sun revealed just a few weeks back [note – at least one of the quashed warrants was from the 70s].
Why not? I dunno. The warrant’s a dusty 30 years old, and it’s a non-violent offence. MacDonald, by many accounts, is now a sick old man. What’s the point of prosecuting him?
Obviously, I wasn’t in the jury room at the trial of Mark Grant, accused of first-degree murder in Candace Derksen’s 1984 death.
Friday night, jurors who heard the evidence in the case found him not guilty of that charge, but guilty of second-degree murder.
While some say that’s an indication the schoolgirl’s death wasn’t planned or premeditated, it strikes me that that wasn’t the basis for charging Grant with first-degree.
The Crown alleged Grant forcibly confined Derksen, and therefore should be convicted of first degree, as the Criminal Code states.
In his instructions to the jury, Justice Glenn Joyal gave them a decision tree sheet that took them through the requisite steps they would need to go through to get to a conviction of first degree by forcible confinement.
I lay it out here below, in as best detail as my note taking skills allow:
“Did Mark Grant abandon the hog-tied Candace Derksen in sub-zero temperatures?” If no, you must find him not guilty. If yes, move on to the next question.
“Did Mark Grant’s abandonment of Candace Derksen cause her death?” If no, you must find him not guilty. If yes, move on to the next question.
“Did Mark Grant have the state of mind to commit murder?” If no, you must find him not guilty of first degree murder, but guilty of manslaughter. If yes, move on to the next question.
“Did Mark Grant do something that was ‘essential, substantial and integral’ to the killing of Candace Derksen?” If no, you must find him not guilty of first-degree murder, but guilty of second-degree murder. If yes, move on to the next question.
“Did Mark Grant commit an offence under sec. 235 CC (forcible confinement)?” If no, you must find him not guilty of first-degree murder, but guilty of second-degree murder. If yes, move on to the next question.
“Was the forcible confinement distinct and independent from the act of killing?” If no, you must find him not guilty of first degree murder, but guilty of second-degree murder. If yes, move on to the next question.
“Was the forcible confinement and murder of Candace Derksen part of the same series of events?” If no, you must find him not guilty of first-degree murder, but guilty of second-degree murder. If yes, Grant must be guilty of first-degree murder.
We’ll never know how the jury arrived at their decision to acquit on the charge of first-degree, but convict on second degree.
And, as Wilma Derksen eloquently writes here, the ‘why’ of the case still remains a mystery. And in the ‘why’ is closure.
Being able to take in at least some of this trial was a privilege.
Great feature by Adam Wasny in the WFP this weekend on the Checkstop program, followed by a good story from Welch and virtually all other Winnipeg media outlets on the successes of this year’s crackdown, which has already exceeded years past in terms of arrests.
I take issue with the service — and the media — trumpeting that the tactic of targeting bars and social venues as “new,” however. They’ve been doing this for a long while now.
Instead, it would appear that the service has boosted staffing levels for the Checkstop initiative, resulting in more checks and roadside arrests.
From Dec. 2008 – official statement:
Police will be strictly enforcing Impaired Driving legislation, targeting areas of the city where social functions that involve the consumption of alcohol take place. Police will be using all tools at their disposal, including physical coordination tests and drug evaluations, to detect and arrest those who choose to drive impaired.
My gut feeling is that the real tactic is a simple one: Add more bodies. Who knows, maybe MPI or the MLCC ponied up some dough.
Another observation: For the first time, the WPS is giving a short description of the events leading up to a drunk driver’s arrest, which helps the media ‘sell’ the story about the stupidity of drunk driving more.
And as much as I admire the idea of the story, thumbs down to CTV for their recent report about DUI convictions stemming from previous years’ Checkstop arrests.
Picking 15 cases at random and then reporting the outcome isn’t enough to say the “majority” are resulting in convictions. Especially when there were 57 + arrests resulting in charges last season.
Do them all, and then make some conclusions. I suspect the result would be surprising.