CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 14. . . .December 7, 2012
Lorimer’s “Real Justice” series focuses on true accounts of young Canadians wrongfully convicted and incarcerated for murder. The most recent entry highlights the circumstances surrounding Guy Paul Morin’s wrongful conviction for the October 1984, murder of nine-year-old Christine Marion Jessop (Chrissy) near the town of Queensville, ON, where she lived with her family. The Morin family had moved to Queensville in September, and neighbours complained endlessly about renovation noise at night, about bees in the yard, about barking dogs, about old cars under repair in the back yard. Twenty-four-year-old Guy Paul lived with his parents, “kept bees and grew flowers to encourage the hives behind his home,” played saxophone and clarinet with three bands, worked at Interiors International as a finishing sander, and was described by neighbours as a “weird type of guy.” His activities the day of Christine’s disappearance underwent intense scrutiny when the investigations focussed on him as the main suspect.
When Janet and Kenny Jessop returned home sometime after 4:00 on October 3, Christine was missing; by 8:00 Janet called police and the investigation began. However, proper police procedures were not followed, and “no one would ever know how much evidence was destroyed in that first seven hours” when friends and neighbours tramped through the house at will. By October 7th, the search was called off when no trace of the girl emerged. On December 31st near Sunderland in Durham County, a farmer discovered Christine’s body, and Durham Regional Police Chief Identification Technician Sergeant Michalowsky assumed control of gathering evidence; however, again proper investigative procedures were not followed, the crime scene was badly compromised, and the inventory of evidence deeply flawed. Shockingly, not even all the bones were collected, a fact the autopsy failed to identify. Not until 1990 when the Jessops visited the crime scene and found more bones was the body exhumed and a proper autopsy performed, thereby opening the door to other questions about mistakes that had occurred.
Detectives Fitzpatrick and Shephard assumed control of the investigation, zeroed in on Guy Paul Morin as their prime suspect, and constructed their case culminating in the April 22, 1985, arrest of Morin for murder. Clayton Rudy, a defence specialist, took the case and wanted to enter an insanity plea, but Morin refused. Michalowsky hid the “original notes of the search” and created a second notebook that “eliminated evidence that didn’t match with Guy Paul’s guilt.” By January 7, 1986, the trial began and ended February 7 with a not guilty verdict. However, by June 7, 1987, Morin was again in custody with the crown insisting on trying the case again, in spite of the duplicity of Michalowsky whom the judge excused from testifying. The team convinced the Jessops to change their testimony about the time line, evidence about Morin’s activities during the day of Christine’s disappearance mysteriously disappeared, CFS experts failed to admit the hair and fibre evidence was contaminated, questionable jail house informants were given credence, and after another nine month trial, Morin was convicted on July 30, 1992, and placed in the general population at the Kingston Penitentiary where he “was attacked and sexually assaulted by fellow inmates.”
Win Wahrer, now the Director of Client Services for the Association in the Defense of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC), convinced Morin was innocent, offered his services and formed the Justice for Guy Paul Morin Committee. On August 22, 1992, an appeal was launched, and Morin was released on February 9, 1993. In October 1994, the Ontario Chief Justice ordered three scientists to examine all the available semen samples and perform a DNA profile; by January 19, 1995, the DNA evidence tested negative for Morin, and he was proven innocent with an acquittal January 23, 1995, by a “directed verdict.”
The Ontario Lieutenant Governor in Council ordered a Public Inquiry be held with the Honourable Fred Kaufman as commissioner, and 146 days of public hearings began February 10, 1997. By April 9, 1998, the Report of the Kaufman Commission on Proceedings Involving Guy Paul Morin was released with 119 recommendations, the most important “related to helping stop police and prosecutors from developing tunnel vision”, including “better interviewing techniques, rules about gathering and storing evidence, and ongoing education to keep professions up-to-date on ways to improve their investigations.” The report cited “faulty work by scientists at the CFS in Toronto, the questionable use of jailhouse informants, faking and misplacing evidence, and more” and called for the establishment of a national DNA data bank which was established on July 5, 2000. Fortunately, Morin was exonerated; unfortunately the murder is still unsolved. Morin received a full apology and a $1.25 million settlement to get on with his life.
The tabloid-style, easy-to-read format of the “Real Justice” series targets reluctant readers and presents the basic facts of the Guy Paul Morin case. Faryon manages to describe the obvious mistakes made by investigators matter-of-factly and lets the outcome speak volumes about sloppy and flawed investigative procedures, incompetence, police and prosecution “tunnel vision,” manipulation of witnesses and evidence, and general misconduct within the justice system that is, by its very definition, designed to protect citizens, not arrest, stigmatize, convict, and imprison innocents.
Characterized by short chapters, a Fry reading level of 5.0, and clear and straightforward prose, the narrative biography Guilty of Being Weird could be a useful resource in classes studying the Canadian justice system and for readers interested in the law, law enforcement, Canadian justice, and related biographical accounts. Faryon provides a “Timeline” for a quick overview of the events, a “Glossary” that includes pertinent terms, “Further Reading” that identifies online, intermediate sources, and newspaper and magazine articles for interested readers, four pages of black and white photographs with “Photo Credits” and an “Index”. As Kirk Makin, crime reporter for The Globe and Mail, writes, “Guy Paul Morin was nothing more than a slightly odd individual who lived on the wrong street at the wrong time. However, the lessons of his case will long outlive Morin himself, providing an example of how seriously justice can go off the rails.”
Darleen Golke writes from her home in Abbotsford, BC.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.