SASKATOON - One of Canada's most experienced pathologists says people in his profession should be taken out of the adversarial system in criminal cases..
Dr. Harry Emson, a pathologist in Saskatoon with 50 years of experience, was testifying for the second day at the inquiry into the wrongful conviction of David Milgaard.
Milgaard spent 23 years behind bars for the 1969 murder of Gail Miller. It was Emson who conducted the autopsy on Miller and he admitted earlier in the week that some mistakes were made.
On Thursday, Emson told the commission of inquiry that pathologists should not be in the position of appearing either for the Crown or defence in criminal cases.
That's the way the system works now. In murder trials, it's common to have one or more pathologists testify as a Crown witness and a different pathologist testify for the defence.
Too often, he said, pathologists are seen as being either too close to the Crown or, alternatively, as hired guns who will testify for money.
Emson said taking pathologists out of the adversarial system and having them give evidence as "friends of the court" would serve everyone better.
Emson said it is possible for people to be convicted based on mistakes on the part of pathologists.
He said a national panel of respected pathologists and medical examiners should be set up to provide expertise to the courts about what is often very complicated scientific evidence.
"In cases where there is a need for an additional opinion or in cases where there are problems with pathology evidence these people could be called in as an impartial bank of judges," he said.
The Milgaard inquiry wrapped up its second week of testimony on Thursday. It will take next week off.
When the hearings resume, the commission will hear from the people who originally accused Milgaard of Miller's murder.
The pathologist who did the 1969 autopsy on Gail Miller's body told the Milgaard Inquiry Wednesday that from the start he thought it unlikely the sexual assault on the woman occurred outdoors on such a cold morning.
Dr. Harry Emson said he thought Miller might have been sexually assaulted elsewhere and her body dumped in the alley, but he didn't press the point with police or prosecutors because he didn't have access to all the information they had.
Emson said he didn't know the Crown case against the then-16-year-old David Milgaard required the assault to have happened outside, at the place where the body was found.
Emson said Miller had superficial slashes on her throat and neck, which were consistent with having been inflicted by a right-handed person. Those slashes, by themselves, were not serious enough to have killed her, he said.
Miller was also stabbed five times on her left front chest, several times on her right back and once on the right side. It was the wound on her side, which punctured her right lung, causing it to fill with blood, that was the main cause of her death, Emson said.
Lying in the snow in bitter -40 C conditions, and the shock of the assault itself, probably also contributed to Miller's death, Emson said. The cold alone could cause death to a non-moving, semi-dressed person in 15 minutes.
When Miller's body was found in the alley near her rooming house, her underpants and stockings were pulled down around her ankles, one boot was missing and the top of her nurse's assistant uniform was bunched down by her waist.
Her arms had been removed from the sleeves of the uniform, but she was wearing her black cloth coat. She had been stabbed through the coat.
Emson also said that if he was performing the autopsy today, he would not throw away the semen he removed from Miller's body.
James Lockyer, the lawyer representing the Association In Defence of the Wrongfully Convicted, said during a sometimes testy cross-examination of Emson that the semen sample could have been used by the RCMP lab in Regina to cast doubt on Milgaard as the person who sexually assaulted Miller.
Milgaard spent 23 years in prison for Miller's murder before he was released in 1992 at the direction of the Supreme Court.
DNA evidence exonerated him in 1997 and was used to convict serial rapist Larry Fisher in 1999.
The commission of inquiry is looking into the original death investigation, the prosecution of Milgaard and why it took so long for the case to be reopened after new information about the case came to light.
Commissioner Justice Edward MacCallum spent all day Wednesday hearing testimony from Emson, who said the decision to discard the semenal fluid would have been a collaborative one between him and the two police officers, Joe Penkala and Thor Kleiv, who were present at the autopsy.
Emson said that he didn't think there was any other use for the fluid sample after he determined it contained sperm, thus proving Miller had intercourse within the previous eight to 12 hours.
"I can only assume we discussed if there was a further use for the specimen. We were not aware there was another use," Emson said.
Lockyer said that in the days before DNA matching, laboratories trying to identify a sexual assailant could examine certain characteristics of the protein in semen to rule out some people with different characteristics. A few days after the murder, analysts at the RCMP lab in Regina examined Miller's underpants to see if there was any semen they could use for such a test, Lockyer said.
Emson said he wasn't aware of that. He now believes all evidence should be kept because there is no way to know whether it might become useful in the future.
Canada's criminal justice process needs independent oversight and access to independent experts to prevent wrongful convictions in the future, a defence lawyer and a pathologist said Thursday at the Milgaard Inquiry.
"The problem that occurs in so many cases, is there is no objective assessment about information collected," said criminal defence lawyer Brian Beresh, who represents convicted killer Larry Fisher at the inquiry.
The commission of inquiry is looking into the 1969 Saskatoon police investigation into the sexual assault and murder of nursing assistant Gail Miller, the prosecution which led to the wrongful conviction of David Milgaard and whether the case should have been reopened based on new information received by justice officials.
Milgaard spent 23 years in prison before he was released in 1992 at the direction of the Supreme Court. DNA was used to exonerate him in 1997 and to convict Fisher of the crime in 1999.
Beresh thinks 90 per cent of wrongful convictions could be prevented if the justice system included a review of major crime files by an impartial body not affiliated with police or Crown prosecutors.
"That would add a screen to the process that presently doesn't exist," Beresh said.
Because police have the job of enforcing the law and are under pressure to solve major crimes, they take, "a certain approach or view of the evidence collected," he said.
Each province could have an independent review body comprised of one or more people with knowledge of the criminal justice system, who would make sure the investigation had been done properly, without bias and that expert evidence was properly reviewed before the file was sent to prosecutors, Beresh said.
"The prosecutor then gets what would be a clear case. It would reduce the chance of wrongful conviction, in my view, by 90 per cent," Beresh said.
The review could be done in the normal course of things and wouldn't have to prolong the process, he said.
Beresh included "bad pathology" in a category of "junk science" on a list of the causes of wrongful convictions. He also included inadequate investigations, tunnel vision by investigators, malicious prosecution, dishonest witnesses, reliance on informants who stand to gain by their testimony, mistaken identification, false confessions and lack of experience in the system itself.
Dr. Harry Emson, the pathologist who did the autopsy on Miller, agreed with the idea of independent review as it applies to pathologists who testify as expert witnesses.
Emson would like to see a panel of accepted experts available to review the pathology evidence being used in criminal prosecutions, especially when the interpretation of clinical findings are controversial and could lead to a wrongful conviction.
Such a panel would provide a type of quality check on forensic pathological evidence which is especially important for small population provinces, which have fewer experts.
Experts on the panel might be chief medical examiners from provinces that have them or other people with established reputations, he said.
"In cases where there is a need for additional opinion, or where there was serious difficulty with the pathology evidence at trial, these people could be called in as an impartial bank of judges.
"I would like to move toward some form of independent expert for the court, particularly in those cases where there is conflict of evidence or difficulty in interpreting it," he said.
Emson does not think Saskatchewan needs to move from the present coroner system to the medical examiner system and can't afford it either, he said.
A medical examiner system relies more heavily on scientific and medical expertise than Saskatchewan's coroner system, in which only seven or eight of the 160 coroners are physicians.
Saskatchewan is one of six provinces in Canada that still use the coroner system, which began hundreds of years ago in England. Under that system, physicians or lay persons can be appointed as coroners, whose job is to determine the cause and manner of sudden, unexpected and violent deaths.
They must investigate death scenes, determine necessity for autopsy by pathologist, obtain additional investigative information from witnesses, law enforcement, the medical profession and others to interpret the information to make those determinations.
The appointment of a new chief coroner in Saskatchewan last year, "seems to indicate that the provincial government is not moving toward a medical examiner system," he said, but he thinks the chief coroner will make changes to strengthen Saskatchewan's "forensic pathology capability."
That will require collaboration between the departments of justice and health, he said.
Up until now, the justice department has expected the health department to supply pathologists for use by the justice system, but it now needs pathologists with increasingly specialized knowledge in forensics.
Emson would like to see the province hire two forensic pathologists for Regina and two for Saskatoon, who would work within the coroner system.
Innocent though he was, David Milgaard was in many respects a likely suspect for the 1969 murder of Gail Miller. But there were serious problems, too, with the case against him.
The inquiry into his wrongful convictions heard Monday of evidence both implicating and exculpating Milgaard.
Witnesses told city police that Milgaard was in the neighbourhood with two companions, driving through back alleys, around the time of the murder. Miller was killed in an alley.
Her wallet was found a block away, not far from the Cadrain residence on Avenue 0. This was Milgaard's destination the morning of the murder. That he was broke suggested robbery as his possible motive.
Miller was also sexually assaulted and stabbed to death. Her killer almost certainly would have been smeared with her blood. This cast further suspicion on Milgaard. Witnesses told police that he immediately changed his clothes upon reaching the Cadrains. He also tried to clean out the car he'd been travelling in. Police were told he seemed excited and in a hurry to leave town. When he and his companions finally did leave for Calgary, he drove 100 miles an hour, sometimes on secondary roads.
Milgaard was regarded as dangerous by at least some of his acquaintances. He was known to indulge in drugs. He was characterized as sexually voracious. He had a juvenile criminal record of "serious offences," details of which have not been made clear. He had also received psychiatric treatment, but for what, the inquiry has yet to learn.
Interviewed for the first time by police a month after the murder, Milgaard was reportedly unable to account for his whereabouts when Miller was killed. Police found him to be less nervous than they'd expect of an innocent 17-year-old suspected of a serious crime. Also deemed suspicious was his failure to ask for a legal aid lawyer. One gets the impression, however, that police would have found it just as suspicious if he had asked for a lawyer.
Most damning of all were statements provided by Albert "Shorty" Cadrain. It was Cadrain's house that Milgaard and two companions were looking for around the time of the murder. Cadrain told police and later testified in court that Milgaard had blood in the crotch area of his pants and on the front of his shirt. It was Cadrain who first alerted police to Milgaard as a suspect. For this, he would later collect a $2,000 reward.
But Cadrain was not the most reliable of witnesses. He would later spend time in a psychiatric ward, suffering from religious delusions. Confused and paranoid, he imagined himself to be the son of God. The diagnosis was schizophrenia.
Killed some years later in a hunting accident in British Columbia, Cadrain was unavailable to testify at the inquiry. He was heard, however, by means of a interview recorded by an author working on a book about the Milgaard case. The recording revealed Cadrain's grip on reality to be less than firm.
His account of his association with Milgaard was disjointed, overly elaborate and simply unbelievable. Among other things, he claimed to have lived with his girlfriend for several days in an attic over Regina City Hall, where they smoked marijuana with members of the Mafia. He further imagined Milgaard to be a member of the Mafia. As if the Mafia would want among its membership an erratic, teenage hippie from Langenburg, Sask. Other evidence pointed more directly to Milgaard's innocence.
For starters, police connected the Miller murder with three earlier rapes in the city, all of which were striking similar. Milgaard was nowhere near Saskatoon when those crimes occurred. They were all the work of serial rapist Larry Fisher, who would later be convicted of the Miller murder as well.
The jury that convicted Milgaard never heard about these previous rapes.
Other witnesses pointed away from Milgaard. The two people who'd been driving around with him that morning, Nicol John and Ron Wilson, told police they'd seen no blood on him. Rather, he'd changed after spilling battery acid on his clothes.
Wilson and John also said they'd been with Milgaard the whole morning, except for a minute or two, so he would not have had the opportunity to assault and kill Miller. Police initially found them to be credible witnesses. Only later, under intense police pressure, did they change their stories to implicate Milgaard.
That Milgaard was a hippie could not have helped his cause. Hippies were not well liked by police in 1969. Long hair, recreational drugs and free love they regarded as a threat to society.
This was revealed by the treatment afforded Shorty Cadrain around that time by Regina city police. While walking down a street in that city, he was arrested, strip searched, roughly handled by four or five cops, charged with vagrancy and thrown in jail for a week. All this because he was unshaven with long hair and scruffy clothes. Rather like Milgaard.
Albert Cadrain, the Crown's main witness against David Milgaard, told federal prosecutors in 1990 that Saskatoon police's interrogation of him in 1969 amounted to mental torture that caused him to have bleeding ulcers and led to psychiatric problems and shock therapy, the Milgaard inquiry heard Tuesday.
But three years later, Cadrain recanted, saying police did what they had to do. In 1993, he also repeated his statement that he saw blood on Milgaard's clothing the day of Gail Miller's murder in 1969.
A review of Cadrain's statements over the years to police, transcripts from court hearings and interviews with journalists and more police reveal a mental decline. The inquiry heard Monday that Cadrain was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward and was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1973.
His subsequent statements included embellished details with new, bizarre anecdotes about Milgaard, his own fear of the Mafia, his vision of the Virgin Mary and his ability to read auras. Cadrain died in a 1995 hunting accident in British Columbia.
The Milgaard inquiry, which sat for its 10th day Tuesday, is looking into the 1969 investigation of the rape and murder of nursing assistant Gail Miller, Milgaard's wrongful conviction for the crime and what justice officials did when new information arose. Milgaard spent 23 years in prison before he was released after the case was reviewed by the Supreme Court. DNA later proved his innocence and was used to convict serial rapist Larry Fisher.
Milgaard, then 16, was on a road trip with two friends from Regina, Ron Wilson and Nicole John, when they came to Saskatoon to pick up Albert "Shorty" Cadrain. The teenagers got lost looking for Cadrain's house and were stuck in a snowy alley before they found the Cadrain residence at 334 Ave. O South.
They did not know that Miller had been murdered just a few blocks away that same morning.
Coincidentally, Larry Fisher lived in a basement suite at the Cadrain family residence.
Cadrain went on the road trip with the trio. About two weeks later, after the group split up in Regina, Cadrain was arrested by Regina police and searched for drugs.
He has said he was strip searched and questioned by five officers who asked questions about the Miller murder. Cadrain was sentenced to two weeks on a vagrancy charge and later worked on a farm for a couple of weeks before returning to Saskatoon.
He heard more about the murder from his family and learned that police were offering a $2,000 reward for information. The next day he told Saskatoon police he had seen blood on Milgaard's pants the morning Milgaard arrived at the Cadrain house.
In 1990, Cadrain told federal lawyers he was interrogated for 12 hours by two Saskatoon police investigators, Eddie Karst and Charles Short, who took turns playing "good cop, bad cop" with him.
"They put me through hell and mental torture . . . I was spitting blood all the time after that. . . . Before that I was just a normal, happy-go-lucky kid. They pushed me over the edge and I cracked," Cadrain said.
He also said in 1990 that knowing his statements contributed to Milgaard spending so many years in prison added to his stress throughout his adult life.
In 1993, two RCMP officers interviewed Cadrain at his home in British Columbia. He said his brother, Dennis, had coaxed him into giving the previous statement to help Milgaard get out of prison because Dennis thought Milgaard had served enough time.
New elements of Cadrain's story in 1993 included Milgaard arriving at Cadrain's house the morning of the murder and demanding to know when the garbage would be picked up, Cadrain's sister saying it would be that day, and then Cadrain alerting Milgaard when the garbage truck arrived. Cadrain said Milgaard stuffed the bloody pants he had been wearing into the garbage and ran, in his bare feet (in some versions it was stocking feet), to the garbage truck with it.
Cadrain said Milgaard stopped at the Calgary public library the day after the murder to read the Saskatoon newspaper. Milgaard wouldn't let Cadrain read the paper, he said.
Throughout the various accounts, Cadrain was consistent about the tough questioning by Saskatoon police, who drove him to the place where Miller's body had been found, showed him a knife and pictures of three young women. He said police watched his reactions when they took him to those places.
After months of repeated interrogations, Cadrain said police told him he should stay in hiding at his father's farm because they didn't want anything bad to happen to their star witness.
The inquiry also heard that when Cadrain went to Ottawa in 1992 to testify at the Supreme Court reference hearing for Milgaard, Air Canada lost his luggage.
An airport guard wrote to the RCMP in Saskatchewan to say they had Cadrain's suitcase containing explicit, handwritten notes about Cadrain's experiences related to the Milgaard matter. The 25 pages of notes apparently were faxed to the RCMP.
Cadrain was surprised that the RCMP had the notes in 1993. He said Air Canada had lost his luggage and when it was returned to him, he could tell the notes he'd made had been tampered with. He later gave the notes to a woman he met at a welfare office. He never got the notes back.
Cadrain assumed the woman must have given the notes to someone, or else how would the RCMP have them, he asked. He then laughed as he suggested the RCMP might have gotten the notes from his suitcase when Air Canada had it.
He said it didn't bother him that RCMP had the notes because he had intended to give them to a federal lawyer anyway.
Kenneth Cadrain says his memory of seeing blood on David Milgaard's clothing may have been false
The youngest sibling of Albert Cadrain said Wednesday his memory of seeing blood on David Milgaard's clothing may have been false, a result of hearing his brother repeat the statement many times over the years.
Kenneth Cadrain was five years old on Jan. 31, 1969, the day Milgaard came to his family's home to see his teenage brother Albert Cadrain, who later claimed he had seen blood on Milgaard's clothing. Kenneth Cadrain did not testify when he was a child but he took the witness stand Wednesday at the Milgaard inquiry, which is looking into the 1969 police investigation into the rape and murder of Gail Miller, the wrongful conviction of Milgaard and the actions taken by justice officials in the following years. Milgaard spent 23 years in prison.
He was proven innocent in 1997 through the use of DNA evidence, which was used in 1999 to convict serial rapist Larry Fisher of the crime.
The inquiry has heard that Albert Cadrain told police that Milgaard came to his house in the hours after the murder with blood on his pants and shirt. He was a key witness for the prosecution at Milgaard's 1970 trial.
Fisher and his wife rented the basement of the Cadrain house at 334 Ave. O South.
In 1990, Cadrain told the CBC he made the allegations against Milgaard as a result of a torturous, 12-hour interrogation by Saskatoon police. The interrogations and pressure continued for months, the inquiry heard earlier this week.
The stress of the police pressure and fear they instilled in him by suggesting someone might want to kill him led to a mental breakdown, Albert Cadrain said in 1990.
"They pushed me over the edge and I cracked," he said at the time.
Cadrain spent two months of 1973 in the psychiatric ward of Saskatoon's University Hospital, where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. In later years Albert Cadrain repeated his earlier statements that he saw blood on Milgaard's clothing, saying he had been pressured to deny it in 1990.
On Wednesday, Kenneth Cadrain told the inquiry that he looked up to Albert and believed his story. In 1990, when Kenneth was 27, he gave his version of events for the first time to investigators. He said he couldn't remember seeing blood on Milgaard's clothing that January morning in 1969, when he was five years old.
He said Albert asked Milgaard about blood on his clothes, and Milgaard explained the blood by saying he had "screwed a virgin." Though Kenneth was too young to understand what that meant, he said he asked Albert about it.
In 1993, Kenneth offered RCMP a different version of his story, saying Milgaard took bloody pants to the garbage as a garbage truck came down the alley.
On Wednesday before the inquiry, he was adamant that he had seen this and had always had such a memory. Later Wednesday, he backed down from those declarations.
Joyce Milgaard's lawyer, Joanne McLean, demonstrated that Kenneth added details to the story during the 1993 interview by RCMP.
He added more details at Fisher's 1999 murder trial, where he was called as a witness for the defence. Kenneth said at that trial Milgaard balled up his bloody pants and shirt and took them to the garbage truck. McLean also showed that Albert Cadrain had changed his story over the years and that Kenneth's versions were similar to Albert's later versions.
Albert never mentioned Milgaard taking clothes to the garbage truck until the mid-1980s. In 1969 and 1970, Albert said he thought Milgaard took the clothes with him in a suitcase.
After the inconsistencies were laid out, Kenneth Cadrain acknowledged it is possible the things he remembers from that morning may have come from his hearing Albert repeat them many times over the years.
"You assume," Kenneth said. "Whether it's right, I don't know anymore. Maybe I didn't even see David Milgaard come to my house that morning," he said.
Upon questioning by the lawyer for the Saskatoon Police Service, Kenneth Cadrain said Saskatoon police never told him to say he had seen blood on Milgaard's clothes.
The older sister of David Milgaard's friend Albert Cadrain recounted increasingly detailed accounts of Milgaard and his behaviour with each official telling of her story, including a surprising new twist that came out at the Milgaard inquiry Thursday.
Celine Armstrong said Thursday that when her brother returned from a road trip with Milgaard and two other teens, he talked to her before going to police to say he had seen blood on Milgaard's clothing.
Armstrong said Cadrain told her Milgaard had enacted a mock stabbing on a pillow at a motel room while they were on the trip.
The statement appeared to surprise Milgaard's lawyer, Hersh Wolch, who pointed out that the incident Armstrong was referring to had not yet occurred at the time of Cadrain's first statement to police on March 2, 1969.
Other witnesses at Milgaard's 1970 trial for the Jan. 31, 1969, murder of Gail Miller testified that later that spring, after Cadrain gave his statement, they were in a motel room with Milgaard when a television news item about the Miller murder prompted Milgaard to pretend to stab a pillow.
Commissioner Edward MacCallum interjected that the incident Armstrong referred to might have been a different incident. If so, it would mean Milgaard had done the mock pillow stabbing on more than one occasion, something which was not suggested at Milgaard's trial.
Albert Cadrain never said anything about Milgaard doing a mock pillow stabbing in any of his statements to police, the courts or journalists, which have been entered as evidence at the inquiry.
The inquiry is looking into the investigation into Miller's rape and murder, the wrongful conviction of Milgaard and what actions justice officials took in the years that followed. Milgaard spent 23 years in prison. He was exonerated in 1997 with DNA evidence, which was used to convict Larry Fisher of the crime in 1999.
Cadrain was the first person to tell Saskatoon police he had seen blood on Milgaard's clothing the day of the murder. That statement led police to focus the investigation on Milgaard, the inquiry has heard.
Armstrong was 20 at the time. She was home the morning of Miller's death, along with Albert, who was 16, and their brother Kenneth, who was five.
The same day Cadrain gave his first statement to police, Armstrong also gave a statement. She said she didn't remember seeing any blood on Milgaard's clothes. She said he was dressed neatly in dark pants and a sweater.
Armstrong said she made breakfast for the teens. Milgaard did most of the talking and he wanted Cadrain to come with them on a road trip.
Armstrong was not called as a witness at the trial. The defence lawyer never spoke with her.
The next time she gave an official statement was to RCMP in 1990. By then her story had changed to include Milgaard repeatedly asking Cadrain for a pair of pants on the day of Miller's death, and Milgaard wearing her father's pants when she met him in the kitchen.
Armstrong explained the new details by saying she told the police officer in 1969 about Milgaard's repeated requests for pants but the officer said they didn't have to include that detail. As a 20-year-old unfamiliar with police procedures, she didn't argue to insist the details be included, she said Thursday.
Wolch asked her if she would agree that the officer who interviewed her didn't do his job properly. She did not agree.
In later years, Armstrong added in other statements that her mother found a pair of bloody pants in a hall closet in the spring of 1969 and it made her mother cry.
On Thursday she agreed with a statement by Cadrain that her mother had washed bloody pants for Milgaard.
Cadrain's original statement said he thought Milgaard took the pants with him when he left he house that day. There was no mention of his mother washing them.
The inquiry resumes Monday. It does not sit on Fridays.
Transcripts of the hearings and documents referred to are available on the Internet at www.milgaardinquiry.ca
Dennis Cadrain told the Milgaard Inquiry Monday that his brother, Albert Cadrain, experienced a hallucinatory vision before he testified in August 1969 against David Milgaard at his preliminary hearing on a charge of murdering Gail Miller in January of that year.
Dennis Cadrain now believes his brother, then 17, may have been mentally ill when he originally told police, a month after the murder, that he had seen blood on Milgaard's clothing. He said he now believes Albert was an unreliable witness when he said he'd seen blood on the clothing.
Dennis Cadrain, now 52, was one year younger than Albert, who died in a 1995 hunting accident. Albert was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1973 and spent two months in a psychiatric ward where he was treated with shock therapy and drugs.
Albert Cadrain was the first person to give the police information that led to Milgaard's wrongful conviction in 1970. Milgaard spent 23 years in prison before the Supreme Court ordered his release in 1992. DNA evidence was used to prove his innocence in 1997 and was used to convict serial rapist Larry Fisher of the crime in 1999.
The inquiry is looking into the Miller death investigation, the wrongful conviction and the subsequent actions of justice authorities. Milgaard and two other teens, Ron Wilson and Nicole John, arrived in Saskatoon early on the morning of Jan. 31, 1969, within hours of the time that Miller, a 20-year-old nursing assistant, was raped and murdered. Her body was found in an alley behind the 200 block of Ave. O South.
The Milgaard group had come to pick up Albert Cadrain to join them on a road trip to Calgary. They got stuck in an alley about five blocks from where Miller's body was found as Milgaard tried to locate the Cadrain house. Milgaard had stayed with the Cadrains for about four days the previous fall, the inquiry has heard.
The Cadrain house was about two blocks from the place where Miller's body was found. Fisher and his wife rented the basement of the Cadrain house.
Dennis told the inquiry he believed Albert's story about blood on Milgaard's clothes but he was skeptical about many of the details Albert added to his story about events on and after the day of the murder.
The new details came out after Albert had been interrogated by police, Dennis said.
"All he told me before we went (to talk to the police) was about the blood," Dennis said.
The additional details included Albert's claim of Milgaard giving packages out of the car trunk to a trucker on the highway, Milgaard being a member of the Mafia, Milgaard going by himself to the Calgary library to read the Saskatoon newspaper and Milgaard asking Cadrain to kill Wilson and John.
"I knew it could not be true. I didn't believe it then. It was farfetched. I don't know how anybody could believe it," Dennis Cadrain said Monday. "There was no discussion about a gun before we went to the police."
Unbeknownst to Dennis, Albert had been questioned in Regina about the murder before he returned to Saskatoon on March 1, before Albert told Dennis he'd seen blood on the clothes.
In the weeks after Albert first went to the Saskatoon police on March 2, they questioned him many times, possibly every day for two weeks, Dennis said. The sessions lasted about 12 hours, he recalled.
Albert was under great pressure, Dennis said. Eventually, the police stopped the questioning and Albert went to the family farm to work while awaiting the preliminary hearing, where he was to be the star witness, the inquiry has heard.
Albert told Dennis he saw a vision of the Virgin Mary while he was at the farm, before he returned to the city to testify in August, Dennis said. Albert was convinced Milgaard was guilty because in the vision, Mary stood on the head of a snake, which had Milgaard's face.
Dennis said he told his mother before the preliminary hearing about the vision. He doesn't know what, if anything, his mother did with the information.
Although Dennis didn't believe parts of Albert's story, he was satisfied in the truth of the bloody pants story because John and Wilson also had information that supported Milgaard's guilt, Dennis said.
Dennis' doubt about the veracity of Albert's story has placed him at odds with other members of his family over the years, he said Monday.
"They thought I was being disloyal to the family," Dennis said.
Opinions in the family are so polarized Dennis cannot discuss the matter with his siblings and could not talk with Albert about it before his death, Dennis said.
As questions arose in the mid- to late-1980s about the possibility of a wrongful conviction, Albert's mother sought the advice of police investigator Eddie Karst. She then counselled Albert not to talk to Milgaard's advocates, Dennis said.
Albert avoided talking on the record about the Milgaard matter until an investigator, Paul Henderson, who was working on behalf of Milgaard, approached Dennis and convinced him there was doubt about Milgaard's guilt.
Dennis then persuaded Albert to talk to Henderson.
That interview in 1990 resulted in Albert signing a statement saying the police put him through "hell and mental torture. . . . They pushed me over the edge and I cracked."
The statement was the first time Albert Cadrain claimed to have come under intense police pressure and the first time he cast doubt on his own story against Milgaard.
Dennis said Henderson may have pressured Albert to the point where he was too tired to resist Henderson's insistent questioning about police tactics. Albert may have agreed to the statement, which was largely composed by Henderson, to put an end to the questions, Dennis said.
"He felt trapped, really nervous. He'd told me things happened but it was never as bad as that," Dennis said.
"I don't think he knew what was real anymore," Dennis said.
The Henderson interview had been done to support Milgaard's first application to the federal justice minister for a hearing at the Supreme Court.
The Justice Department sent its own representative, Eugene Williams, to talk to the Cadrains. Albert reverted to his long-held claims against Milgaard.
Albert also gave an on-camera interview to the CBC, which aired a national program featuring Albert's comments about the torturous police interrogation.
The rest of the Cadrain family was angry with Dennis for arranging the interviews. Their mother wrote Dennis a scathing letter to express her unhappiness, Dennis said.
Dennis Cadrain also discounted as "total fabrication" two versions of a story about the pants Milgaard changed out of while he was at the Cadrain house that morning. The boys' older sister, Celine Armstrong, told the inquiry last week that their mother found a pair of bloody pants in the hall closet in the spring of 1969.
"If she had found the bloody pants, she'd have taken them to the bloody police," Dennis said.
A version told by Albert many years after the murder had his mother laundering the pants for Milgaard the day of the murder.
"It didn't happen," Dennis said.