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Commission of Inquiry into the Wrongful Conviction of David Milgaard

page four

 Irwin Cotler

Justice minister granted standing at Milgaard inquiry

Federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler has been granted standing at the David Milgaard inquiry by the judge who is looking into Milgaard's wrongful murder conviction.

The Department of Justice applied to Justice Edward MacCallum for standing on Friday, after several inquiry witnesses made reference to a Eugene Williams. Williams worked in the unit that investigated Milgaard's applications to the justice minister for a review of his first-degree murder conviction.

"As a result of that testimony being given about a working unit that advised the federal minister of justice, the federal minister of justice would like to be represented at the inquiry," said Stephen McLachlin, a Saskatoon-based lawyer for the Department of Justice.

Milgaard spent 23 years in prison for the 1969 murder of Gail Miller. He was released in 1992 and exonerated through DNA evidence in 1997. Serial rapist Larry Fisher was convicted of the crime in 1999. The inquiry is looking into the Miller death investigation, Milgaard's wrongful conviction and the actions of justice officials in the years afterwards.

Milgaard applied twice to Kim Campbell, federal justice minister at the time, for a review of his murder conviction under Section 690 of the Criminal Code, McLachlin said. Williams worked in the unit that investigated Section 690 applications and, during his review, interviewed many people who had some knowledge of Milgaard or the crime.

The federal Justice Department hadn't expected that process would come under scrutiny and therefore didn't initially apply for standing at the inquiry, McLachlin said. The justice minister wants to be represented in the same way as the other organizations under scrutiny, he said.

"The commissioner (MacCallum) would like to know everything about the whole history, so he is allowing questions about how the witnesses were treated by the unit that investigated the two applications that Mr. Milgaard made in the late '80s and (early) '90s," McLachlin said. "It's a whole different judicial process that's coming under scrutiny."

MacCallum is expected to announce Cotler has been granted standing today.


Milgaard acted out mock stabbing on pillow:
former friend

A former friend of David Milgaard's told the Milgaard inquiry he remembers being at a Regina motel room when Milgaard acted out a mock stabbing on a pillow, but other people who gave police statements at the time did not support his claim of being present at the event.

The inquiry is looking into the police investigation of the January 1969 rape and murder of nursing assistant Gail Miller, Milgaard's wrongful conviction and the actions of justice authorities in the years afterwards. Milgaard spent 23 years in prison before he was released in 1992. DNA evidence proved his innocence in 1997 and was used to convict serial rapist Larry Fisher in 1999.

Milgaard became a suspect in the crime after his friend Albert Cadrain told police Milgaard had blood on his clothes the morning of the murder. They and two other teens then went on a week-long road trip to Alberta. Fisher rented the basement of the Cadrain house on Avenue O South, about two blocks from where Miller's body was found. Albert Cadrain died in 1995. Three Regina teens testified at Milgaard's trial that he enacted the murder at a motel room party in May, 1969.

Robert Harris, now 52, was 16 in 1969. He told the inquiry Tuesday he couldn't understand why the police never contacted him about what he saw in the motel that night, but did contact his buddies who had been there with him.

Harris remembers being at the Parklane Motel in May or June of 1969, where Milgaard was in bed with one or both of two teenage girls who were there. Harris remembers George Lapchuk and Craig Melnyk being there, too.

Someone made a joking accusation at Milgaard about the Miller murder after they saw a news item about it on television. Milgaard responded by straddling a pillow, making a stabbing motion toward it and saying something to the effect of, "Yeah, I killed her." Harris said he never believed Milgaard really meant it.

Upon further questioning by lawyers and a review of court transcripts, the inquiry heard that Harris had been at the motel earlier on the day in question, when only Milgaard and the girls, Ute Frank and Debbie Hall, were there. Harris left and sometime that day encountered Lapchuk and Melnyk. He told them where Milgaard was and they went to the motel without Harris.

On Jan. 18, 1970, the day before Milgaard's trial was set to begin, Ronald Wilson told police he had learned of the mock pillow stabbing incident. Wilson was one of the group who was with Milgaard the day of the murder, went on the Alberta road trip and testified against him at the trial.

Saskatoon police went to Regina on Jan. 19, 1970, and obtained statements from Melnyk, Lapchuk and Frank. All three described the mock pillow stabbing. None said Harris was there.

Harris recalls riding in the back seat of a car with Lapchuk and Melnyk in the front seat as they returned to Regina after Lapchuk and Melnyk testified about the motel incident at the trial in Saskatoon. Harris was not involved in the conversation and didn't know exactly what the other two had told the court.

Harris couldn't explain why he wouldn't have asked more questions or why he didn't go to authorities to say he'd been at the motel and didn't believe Milgaard was serious. He acknowledged, after the review of the record, that police probably didn't contact him for a statement because nobody said he was there. Albert Cadrain's brother, Dennis Cadrain, told the inquiry Monday he thinks Albert was mentally ill when he testified against Milgaard. Dennis said he told his mother before Albert testified at the preliminary hearing that Albert had spoken of seeing a vision of the Virgin Mary standing on a snake with Milgaard's face.

Authorities should have helped Albert but instead they used him, Dennis Cadrain said.

Under cross examination Tuesday, Dennis Cadrain acknowledged that his mother was an intelligent, educated woman, who taught kindergarten, read the paper and was involved in her children's lives. Albert Cadrain's ex-wife, Barbara Cadrain, told the inquiry her husband spoke highly of detective Eddy Karst who interrogated him before he gave a statement implicating David Milgaard in the murder.

However, she also said Albert told her the police treated him badly when they interrogated him. They used hot lights and intimidated him.

Barbara Cadrain believed Albert when he first told her about having seen blood on Milgaard's clothing, but over the years she stopped believing the story because of his erratic mood changes and other outlandish stories.


Milgaard's 'I killed her' comment just a joke: witness

SASKATOON - The David Milgaard inquiry has heard some doubt cast on more key evidence from his 1970 murder trial.

During the trial, four people came forward with a disturbing story about a party at a Regina motel the night before Milgaard's arrest.

They said that when a news story came on about the murder of 20-year-old nursing assistant Gail Miller, Milgaard's friends started teasing him, knowing he was a suspect at the time.

They testified that in response to the teasing Milgaard grabbed a pillow, held it between his legs and made stabbing motions saying "Yeah, I killed her".

The so-called reenactment was important evidence against Milgaard, who was convicted and spent 23 years behind bars for a crime he didn't commit.

But now the inquiry into Milgaard's wrongful conviction has heard a different version of the party story.

Bob Harris was at the party and while he confirmed Milgaard said words to the effect of "Yeah, I killed her," he said he saw his actions as a goofy joke rather than an admission to murder.

"I do believe it was just an act," Harris said. "I don't believe for a minute it was an actual reenactment of the crime."

Ask why he believed that, Harris answered: "'Cause I knew David better than that."

Harris said no one in the room at the time seemed to believe Milgaard.

Harris never spoke to anyone about his version of events for more than 20 years.

Asked why he didn't come forward on his own, Harris said he was just scared.

Earlier in the inquiry, the commission heard doubt case on another key piece of evidence that put police on the trail of Milgaard allegations he had blood on his clothes the morning of the murder.

The inquiry began last month and is expected to run for a year.


Milgaard friend makes new confession allegation
Melnyk's story alleges Milgaard admitted to murder while stoned

A brand new allegation about David Milgaard confessing to murder came out at the Milgaard inquiry Wednesday.

The revelation was met with skepticism by lawyers for Milgaard and his mother, Joyce Milgaard.

Milgaard was 16 in 1969 when he was charged with killing Saskatoon nursing assistant Gail Miller while passing through Saskatoon on a road trip.

He was convicted after the friends who had travelled with him gave damning testimony about his activities the day of the murder. That evidence was bolstered by three other teens, who had partied with Milgaard a few months later and said he had used a pillow to re-enact a stabbing, while saying he had killed Miller. Milgaard spent 23 years in prison before the Supreme Court ordered his release in 1992. DNA was used to exonerate him in 1997 and was used to convict serial rapist Larry Fisher of the crime in 1999.

The commission of inquiry is looking into the Miller death investigation, Milgaard's wrongful conviction and the actions taken by justice officials in the years following the conviction.

Craig Melnyk is one of three people who testified at Milgaard's 1970 trial that he had seen Milgaard pretend to stab a pillow while saying that he had "killed her" or had "stabbed her 14 times."

Melnyk gave several impassioned, exasperated statements, saying he wished he had never given any information about the incident, and discussing the stress he has suffered by having his story called into question over the years.

Since the trial, Melnyk has repeated the original, motel room story to RCMP, to the Supreme Court in 1992 and to a Regina newspaper reporter, but Melnyk never disclosed, until now, that Milgaard had earlier made a spontaneous admission, while he was in a car with Melnyk and the other two teens who testified about the motel room re-enactment.

Melnyk said he withheld the car incident because he was a "young criminal" at the time and he didn't want to tell the police anything. Over the years, he continued to withhold the story because he just wanted to put the Milgaard matter behind him, he said Wednesday.

Melnyk said that at some point, probably before the motel incident, he was in a car with Milgaard, their friend, George Lapchuk, and a girl, Ute Frank. They were all stoned on mescaline, Melnyk recalled.

Milgaard, who was under suspicion for the Miller murder at the time, ripped off his shirt, jumped into the back seat and "stated something like, 'I killed her,' " Melnyk said.

Milgaard had a "very aggressive" facial expression when he said it and used a forceful tone of voice, Melnyk said.

Lapchuk and Melnyk were "freaked out," and got out of the car. They looked at the stars while Milgaard and Frank stayed in the car and had sex, Melnyk said.

Melnyk acknowledged that he never told authorities about either incident until the eve of Milgaard's trial. At the time, Melnyk was awaiting trial for armed robbery. He said he was never offered any incentive to tell the story and never received any favour as a result of his testimony.

He and another man were convicted of the robbery sometime after the Milgaard conviction. Melnyk was sentenced to six months while the other man got 21/2 years. A newspaper article about it indicated Melnyk received an inordinately lenient sentence.

Melnyk said Wednesday he never committed the robbery and was wrongly convicted.

Melnyk, who was a member of the Regina Apollo motorcycle club, was also charged with first-degree murder in 1986, along with a fellow Apollo member. Melnyk testified for the defence in his co-accused's trial. The charge against him was stayed.

Saskatoon police heard about the motel room incident from Ron Wilson on the day before Milgaard's trial began on Monday, Jan. 19, 1970. Wilson was one of the travelling companions who was with Milgaard the day of the murder. Wilson, Melnyk and Milgaard all knew each other.

Saskatoon detective Eddy Karst went to Regina on the Monday and obtained statements about the motel incident from Melnyk, Lapchuk and Frank. Melnyk said the three of them did not discuss what they'd told police.

It was a coincidence that Lapchuk and Frank withheld the story about the admission in the car, just as he had done, Melnyk said. It was also a coincidence that the three people in the car with Milgaard also happened to be present in the motel when Milgaard pretended to stab a pillow after Lapchuk bugged him about the murder, Melnyk said.


More than one mystery within Milgaard case

The central mystery in the Milgaard inquiry, of course, is how an innocent man came to spend 23 years in prison for a sex murder he did not commit. Within this context, however, are a host of other mysteries large and small.

For instance:

Among the key witnesses testifying against David Milgaard at his trial in 1970 was his friend Craig Melnyk. He said he'd been at a party in a Regina hotel room when Milgaard confessed to and re-enacted the murder. He further testified that he believed Milgaard to be capable of murder.

Melnyk gave more or less the same account Wednesday at the inquiry. The mystery is why he'd have implicated his friend. By Melnyk's own account, he was at the time "a little criminal." For someone in that circle to help police convict a friend was to be labelled a rat. This, he understated, "wasn't the thing to do." And yet that's exactly what he did.

Melnyk was approached by Saskatoon police after they learned second-hand of the re-enactment. He could easily have said he didn't know what they were talking about, as criminals typically do. He could have helped his friend by minimizing the incident. He could have refused even to talk to police. Instead, he provided them with damning evidence that helped clinch Milgaard's conviction.

Melnyk was at the time facing charges in Regina for armed robbery. He was later convicted and sentenced to six months, reportedly the lightest sentence ever imposed on an armed robber. It seems unlikely, however, that this was a reward for testifying against Milgaard. The prosecutor in Melnyk's armed robbery case was seeking a longer sentence. Rather, it was the judge who was inexplicably lenient. But a judge almost certainly would not have been party to any deal.

Melnyk's explanation for informing on Milgaard is less than convincing. He told the inquiry that he'd initially mentioned the murder re-enactment to another friend. By the time he was questioned by police, the cat was out of the bag. But why did he help shake even more cats out of the bag? It's a mystery.

HERE'S ANOTHER MYSTERY, this one regarding the police investigation. It was more than a month after the murder that Milgaard became a suspect. That's when police learned that he'd been in the vicinity of the crime scene the morning of the murder. The mystery is why police didn't learn of this sooner.

Milgaard and two companions that morning visited the Cadrain home on 19th Street and Avenue O, just a little more than a block away from where Gail Miller was raped and stabbed to death. There, they arranged a tow for their broken-down car, unloaded some luggage and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, among other things. This was at the time a stable, working-class, residential neighbourhood. You'd think a door-to-door police canvass would have turned up someone who remembered these hippie-type strangers with car problems.

You'd think someone at the Cadrains, or one of their neighbours, would have mentioned this when asked if they'd seen anything unusual that morning. And yet there is no indication that the police canvass turned up anything useful.

Ironically, one of the people who was canvassed was Linda Fisher, wife of Larry Fisher, the serial rapist later convicted of the crime. By incredible co-incidence, the Fishers were then renting a basement suite in the Cadrain home. Linda, who then knew nothing of her husband's crimes, was unable to help. Larry was also questioned by police as he waited for the bus. It figures that he had nothing useful to offer. But why didn't anyone else notice the Milgaard group?

As the days and weeks went by with the monstrous crime remaining unsolved, you'd think police would have canvassed the neighbourhood repeatedly. Still, they turned up nothing. It was almost as if Milgaard and his companions were invisible.

This is not to suggest police weren't busy. Reports indicate they were investigating no fewer than 200 possible suspects. Neither Milgaard nor Fisher was among them.

HERE'S A THIRD MYSTERY, this one involving Albert Cadrain, the key witness against Milgaard.

In 1992, Cadrain was summoned to Ottawa to testify at Milgaard's hearing before the Supreme Court. On that trip, Cadrain's suitcase was apparently lost by Air Canada. It was returned to him sometime after he returned home.

Nothing mysterious about that. Airlines lose and return bags all the time. In this case, however, Cadrain's luggage contained detailed, handwritten notes he'd made to refresh his memory for his court appearance. They were still in his bag when it was returned to him. Later, however, copies of those notes somehow ended up in the hands of the RCMP.

This isn't something they mention at the lost luggage counter.

The mystery might be resolved when the officer who had the notes is called to testify before the inquiry. Other mysteries will likely prove more stubborn.


Supposed confession sarcastic, inquiry hears
Milgaard's actions 'twisted' by others: woman's testimony

One of the teenage girls present in a motel room the night David Milgaard is said to have re-enacted the murder of Gail Miller said she had no idea until years later that Milgaard's activities at the motel that night had been used to help convict him.

Deborah Hall, now 52, told the Milgaard inquiry Thursday she thought Milgaard was being sarcastic when he responded to a question about the murder by saying he had done it, while punching a pillow to fluff it up.

The Milgaard inquiry is looking into the 1969 investigation into Miller's death, Milgaard's wrongful conviction and actions of justice authorities in the years afterwards. Milgaard spent 23 years in prison before he was released in 1992. DNA was used to prove his innocence in 1997 and to convict serial rapist Larry Fisher of the crime in 1999.

Hall said one of her hairdressing clients in 1981 was a journalist, Chris O'Brien, who recognized her name from Milgaard's trial transcripts. O'Brien interviewed Hall and the two of them compared the trial transcripts with Hall's memory of the incident.

Two boys who had been at the motel room party in May 1969, Craig Melnyk and George Lapchuk, had testified against Milgaard, saying he pretended to stab a pillow while saying that he had killed Saskatoon nursing assistant Gail Miller.

Melnyk and Lapchuk told the court in January 1970 that Hall and her girlfriend, Ute Frank, were also there that night. Hall, then 15, had run away from home in the summer of 1969 and had gone to Montreal, where she did not hear about the trial.

Hall told O'Brien she was shocked that others had interpreted Milgaard's remarks as a serious confession because she thought Milgaard was being sarcastic when he made the statements.

Milgaard was fluffing up and punching a pillow when Lapchuk kidded him about killing Miller after the television news showed an item about it. That pillow-softening action was "twisted" by Lapchuk and Melnyk, Hall said.

About five years later, Milgaard's lawyer, David Asper, contacted Hall to make a statement about what she had seen. Hall testified at the Supreme Court on Milgaard's behalf in 1991.

Although Hall did not think Milgaard had really murdered someone, she was not impressed with his character.

She and Frank were acquainted with him when they met up at a downtown Regina park and accepted his invitation to party in his hotel room. On the way there, Milgaard ripped off a boy who gave Milgaard money to buy drugs for him, Hall said. Milgaard bought the drugs but instead of giving them to the boy, he shared them with the girls. Hall thought the capsules they took were synthetic THC. Hall said Asper told her years later that Milgaard had actually given the girls horse tranquillizers.

Sometime after they arrived at the motel, Lapchuk and Melnyk also showed up. Hall remembers Robert Harris arriving at some point, too. Harris's presence has been the subject of debate because at the 1970 trial no one ever mentioned him being there. Witnesses only included Harris years afterwards. Harris has said he was there but was not contacted by authorities at the time.

Hall said she remembers Milgaard injecting Harris with the drug from the capsule.

Milgaard and Frank had sex in the bed while the other teens were present. At one point, Milgaard, who was naked, came and sat on Hall's lap and invited her to join him and Frank in bed. Hall said she declined.

She said Thursday Milgaard took advantage of Frank while she was stoned, which, along with the drug rip-off, made her distrust him.

A couple of weeks later, Frank told Hall that Milgaard had been arrested for a rape and murder. Hall recalls that she replied with a sarcastic comment that she was sure it was true. Hall thought the remark was gossip and didn't realize the murder in question was the same incident the boys had been joking about in the motel room.

The inquiry resumes on Monday. Transcripts of and documents used at the inquiry are available on its website, at www.milgaardinquiry.ca.


Milgaard witness offers different version of events

The memory of the current witness at the Milgaard inquiry has produced some dramatically different recollections from those of other people who were present at the same event.

Ute Frank's recollection has also expanded since 1970, when, as a troubled 17-year-old, she gave Saskatoon police her first statement about a motel room party where David Milgaard is said to have pretended to stab a pillow while saying that he "killed her."

Frank acknowledged lying or telling incomplete versions of events at various times over the years.

She is the only one of five or six people present in a Regina motel room in May 1969 who says that after the television news showed an item about the January 1969 murder in Saskatoon of nursing assistant Gail Miller, Milgaard threw himself repeatedly against the walls until his face was covered in blood and that he grabbed a syringe and stabbed a pillow with it, while declaring he had "killed the bitch."

Asked why, when interviewed by a federal justice official in 1991, she omitted an allegation that Milgaard threatened to kill her if she told what she'd seen, Frank responded: "What difference did it make by that time?"

Milgaard, who was 16 at the time of Miller's death, spent 23 years in prison before being released in 1992 at the direction of the Supreme Court. He was proven innocent with DNA evidence in 1997. The DNA tests were used to convict serial rapist Larry Fisher of the crime in 1999.

The inquiry is looking into the Miller death investigation, Milgaard's wrongful conviction and actions of justice officials in the years afterwards.

Frank also told the inquiry Monday there were 15 to 20 people present when the strange behaviour occurred and that most of them left while it was happening because they were afraid it would draw attention and police to their drug party.

She claimed Milgaard became angry afterwards, placed a chair under the motel room door handle and prevented the three remaining teens from leaving. She also said Milgaard threatened to kill her, Craig Melnyk and George Lapchuk if they ever spoke of what they had heard.

That version of events did not emerge until 24 years after the event. By then, she had given statements to police and the prosecutor in 1969, to the RCMP, a federal justice employee and had testified at the Supreme Court of Canada.

When asked why she didn't include those details in earlier versions, Frank said she was terrified in 1970.

By the time of the 1991 Supreme Court hearing, Frank said, "I thought what was the point? He was in prison already. Who cares?"

Melnyk and Deborah Hall, who were there, and Robert Harris, who may have been there, have already testified Milgaard made a stabbing motion on a pillow and gave different versions of his exact words.

None said Milgaard threw himself against walls. No one else said there was a syringe involved in the mock pillow stabbing.

Harris and Hall said nobody in the room took Milgaard seriously, while Frank and two others have said they knew Milgaard had been questioned by the police about the Miller murder and believed that he was stating fact.


Testimony tarnishes Milgaard
lawyer: Stories of youthful indiscretions blacken reputation a second time

David Milgaard's name is being tarnished all over again as lawyers review negative statements about him pertaining to the crime for which he was wrongfully convicted, the lawyer for his mother charged Tuesday during the Milgaard inquiry

"David Milgaard was a victim of the criminal justice system," said lawyer James Lockyer.

Lockyer said Joyce Milgaard worked for years fighting for her son's reputation and was successful in using DNA evidence to prove his innocence.

It is unfair to Milgaard to have his reputation blackened again, Lockyer said.

"You don't have to hear a revictimization of the victim," said Lockyer, adding one of the inquiry's tasks is to find out how the teenager was wrongfully convicted of murder.

The inquiry is looking into the police investigation of the January 1969 rape and murder of Saskatoon nursing assistant Gail Miller, Milgaard's wrongful conviction and the actions taken by justice officials in the years afterwards.

A series of coincidences led Saskatoon police to the 16-year-old hippy: Milgaard was travelling through Saskatoon the morning of Miller's death; he and two other teens had driven around the neighbourhood where Miller was murdered; they got stuck in a snowy alley near the alley where Miller's body was found; the teens visited the Pleasant Hill residence of 17-year-old Albert Cadrain, whose parents just happened to be renting the basement to the real killer, Larry Fisher.

At the time, no one knew that Fisher had recently sexually assaulted two women in the neighbourhood.

Milgaard was convicted of killing Miller after his friends gave damning evidence against him. That was bolstered by evidence from another group of teens who said he had, later that year, re-enacted the murder in a Regina motel room.

Milgaard spent 23 years in prison before the Supreme Court ordered his release in 1992. DNA evidence proved his innocence in 1997 and was used to convict Fisher in 1999.

On Tuesday, Lockyer took issue with questions posed by lawyer Aaron Fox, who represents former Saskatoon police detective Eddy Karst. Fox was reviewing details of a March 1969 statement made by one of Milgaard's former girlfriends, Sharon Williams.

Williams had written an 11-page statement on her experiences with Milgaard in the year she had known him. Williams had run away with Milgaard, used drugs with him and had sex with him.

Lockyer said Joyce Milgaard has also found it difficult to listen to the statements about her son that have been made by other witnesses at the inquiry.

Fox argued that Milgaard's guilt or innocence is not at issue during the inquiry. Instead, the inquiry must find out how he was wrongfully convicted.

"What information did police base their actions upon? Were the witnesses credible?" Fox asked.

"You can't say David Milgaard is off limits."

Inquiry commissioner Justice Edward MacCallum agreed there should be no gratuitous attacks on character.

He also made a slip of the tongue, saying he is charged with finding out if Milgaard was wrongfully convicted. Lockyer noted for MacCallum that there is no doubt of the wrongful conviction.

MacCallum also said he regrets that people, probably including police and prosecutors, will be embarrassed by some parts of the evidence.

"That's just too bad. We're searching after the truth and we'll go where the evidence leads us," MacCallum said.

Lawyer Catherine Knox, who represents former Crown prosecutor T.D.R. Caldwell, said she should be allowed to examine all of the evidence against Milgaard so it will make its way onto the public record through the media, since many members of the public do not have access to computer records about the case.

As a prosecutor, Caldwell would have referred to police statements to help him evaluate whether the accused could possibly have committed the act, Knox said.

MacCallum will rule today on how much negative information about Milgaard's youth lawyers will be allowed to draw out.


Witness stuck to story until death
Teen claimed to see Milgaard re-enact murder

One of the teens who said David Milgaard re-enacted a murder in a Regina motel room stuck with his story until his death in 2004.

George Lapchuk was one of four teens who were with Milgaard at a motel room party about four months after Saskatoon nursing assistant Gail Miller was raped and murdered in Saskatoon in January 1969.

The inquiry into Milgaard's wrongful conviction listened Wednesday to portions of the statements Lapchuk made at Milgaard's January 1970 trial and several other interviews over the years.

He never backed away from his claim that he saw Milgaard straddle a pillow, pretend to stab it and say he had "killed her."

Other witnesses who were present have said they thought Milgaard was being sarcastic because two of his friends, who knew he had been questioned by police, had been bothering him with accusing questions about the murder.

The statements entered Thursday included two recorded conversations between Lapchuk and Milgaard's mother, Joyce Milgaard, in 1981, when she had begun making public statements about the possibility of a miscarriage of justice in her son's case.

Lapchuk told Joyce Milgaard he believed David had committed the murder but he was willing to hear her out. He said he was mystified about the reactions of other witnesses Joyce Milgaard was trying to talk to. Some were meeting to discuss the matter, but refused absolutely to talk with Lapchuk or Milgaard.

Lapchuk died from natural causes.

Milgaard's former girlfriend, Sharon Williams, testified Tuesday and Wednesday. She said Milgaard and three friends, Ron Wilson, Albert Cadrain and Nicole John, visited her in St. Albert, Alta., in early February 1969.

She said she didn't notice anything unusual about Milgaard's behaviour during the day and night she spent with him.

Albert Cadrain's friend, Leonard Gorgchuk, supported parts of a story Cadrain told investigators about their trip to Regina a week before Miller was murdered.

Gorgchuk smiled as he listened to his now-deceased friend's voice on a 14-year-old tape recording in which Cadrain recounts how the two of them used to eat peanut butter sandwiches and drink tea while they played chess all night. Gorgchuk acknowledged they smoked tea leaves a couple of times, hoping to get a marijuana high.

He said Cadrain was honest and quiet. He never saw any sign of the mental illness that Cadrain was later diagnosed with.

Also on Wednesday, commissioner Justice Edward MacCallum ruled that lawyers must justify the relevance of evidence that attacks a person's character before MacCallum will allow it to be read out at the hearings.

The ruling came after lawyers for the Milgaards complained Tuesday that lawyers for police and justice officials were unfairly focusing on statements that made unsubstantiated, negative comments about David Milgaard.

Counsel for police and justice officials argued they needed to demonstrate, for the public record, what evidence police relied upon in 1969 to justify their suspicions about Milgaard.

MacCallum said Wednesday if lawyers can demonstrate the relevance of their examination, he will allow the questions. MacCallum will have use of entire documents, regardless of which portions are highlighted by counsel.

The ruling does not prevent public access to any of the information MacCallum won't allow: all of the documents referred to will be posted on the inquiry's website, www.milgaardinquiry.ca.

Milgaard spent 23 years in prison for the murder.

He was released in 1992 and exonerated through DNA evidence in 1997. Serial rapist Larry Fisher was convicted of the crime in 1999.

The inquiry is looking into the Miller death investigation, Milgaard's wrongful conviction and actions of justice officials in the years afterwards.

The inquiry has adjourned for a regularly scheduled break. It will resume March 7 in Saskatoon.

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