injusticebusters logo

Larry Fisher died in prison June 9, 2015

Protecting RCMP snitch Larry Fisher?

David Milgaard malicious prosecution

Larry Fisher

RCMP snitch Larry Fisher - Licence to lie

Larry Fisher has long been suspected of being an RCMP informant. Two women who were raped in North Battleford were told their rapist had been caught -- and it was David Milgaard.

Fisher was the real culprit and he was in custody in Regina. The practice of giving snitches licence to lie is standard practice for the RCMP who enlist the cooperation of local police. This licence includes rape and murder.

Were they protecting RCMP snitch, Larry Fisher, giving him licence to kill in exchange for info on politicos and potheads?

We are counting on the Milgaard Inquiry to shed more light on this.

Larry Fisher testifies at Milgaard Inquiry September 2005


The trial of Larry Fisher

This summarizes the case:

PREVIOUS PAGE:
Case prompts scrutiny of jury
DNA proves Fisher guilty
Fisher's defence on attack
Miller's body dumped?
Lawyer tries to implicate Milgaard
Police bungled investigation
Witnesses recount hours surrounding death
Weapon used to kill Miller discovered

THIS PAGE:
Trial slowed by more legal skirmishes
Early DNA test failed to implicate Fisher
Fisher's victims describe horrifying attacks
Ex-wife suspected him of murder
Milgaard's semen not on dress
DNA expert links Fisher to murdered woman
Crown rebuts implication Milgaard stabbed Miller
Lid put on Fisher evidence


Fisher trial slowed by more legal skirmishes: arguments continue over admissibility of certain evidence

Fisher Larry

YORKTON - The final hours of the Larry Fisher trial hit a snag Wednesday as lawyers argued over the last pieces of evidence.

After more possible evidence today, only closing arguments from the Crown and the defence remain to be heard, along with instructions from Queen's Bench Justice Gerry Allbright to the jury. A precise schedule has not been set.

Fisher, 50, is on trial for the murder of Gail Miller, a 20-year-old Saskatoon nursing assistant, in 1969.

He was charged with the crime in 1997, after DNA tests exonerated David Milgaard and linked Fisher to the crime.

More than 50 voir dire hearings have taken place outside the presence of the jury to assess whether evidence should go before the jury. The main issues presented by the Crown are:

Gail Miller murder victim

Nursing assistant Gail Miller is found dead in an alley, stabbed fourteen times with a paring knife

The Crown has called evidence that Fisher committed three knife-point rapes around the time of Gail Miller's death. Two of the women were raped in the same neighbourhood where Miller's body was found. The Crown says Fisher used the same method in his attacks as was used by Gail Miller's killer.

DNA samples found in semen stains on Miller's clothing match DNA from Fisher's blood. The odds are 950 trillion-to-one that someone other than Fisher left the semen.

Linda Fisher, Larry Fisher's ex-wife, identified the suspected murder weapon, a paring knife with a maroon handle, saying she and her husband bought the knife in 1968 at a grocery store in Saskatoon. However, the defence has pointed out that Linda Fisher did not identify the knife until she came to court in 1998. She failed to identify it on several occasions, and even expressed relief once that her ex-husband could not be the killer because she did not recognize the knife.

The main line of defence has been to question the innocence of Milgaard, who was originally convicted of the crime and served 23 years in prison.

One defence witness gave a statement to police in May 1969 saying she saw Milgaard stab a woman. The same witness gave several other statements that Milgaard did no such thing. She has since testified several times that she can't remember anything.

Another witness said he saw blood on Milgaard's pants. That witness gave a statement in 1992 that he wasn't sure if Milgaard had blood on his pants. His statement also contradicted by two other witnesses, who said Milgaard did not have blood on his pants.

The DNA tests in 1997 that linked Fisher to the crime exonerated Milgaard. The Saskatchewan government apologized to him, and paid him $10 million in compensation.

The defence has also consistently attacked the DNA evidence, including the tests that cleared Milgaard. The defence has particularly questioned the source of the semen on the dress.

The defence pointed out that the RCMP laboratory had a sample of Fisher's semen since 1992. Evidence late last week implied that the semen sample was not in its original sealed condition.

The defence has also attacked the credibility of the RCMP scientist who handled the samples. The scientist lost her Milgaard-Fisher case notes. The defence has also raised questions about her in other ways, but the exact nature of those attacks are banned from publication.

The defence has also attacked the continuity of exhibits, including the dress, pointing out that any number of people have had access to the exhibits during most of the past 30 years.

A number of scientists prior to 1997 examined Miller's dress without finding the large stains which were used to link Fisher. The defence has suggested that lends credence to the theory someone used Fisher's sample between 1992 to 1997 to plant the stain.


Early DNA test failed to implicate Fisher
Sampling considered too crude to obtain proper profile, court hears

YORKTON - One of Canada's early pioneers in DNA testing found nothing in Gail Miller's clothing 11 years ago to clear David Milgaard or implicate Larry Fisher in her death, Fisher's murder and rape trial heard Thursday.

Dr. James Ferris examined Miller's clothing for DNA samples in 1988. His laboratory at Vancouver General Hospital was among the first in Canada doing research on DNA profiling.

Ferris said his lab found four small DNA samples on Miller's undergarments, but the attempts to profile the DNA were inconclusive.

"We did extract material which we felt was DNA, but we were not able to do any characterization of it that would confirm it was human or animal. We knew it was DNA, that was all," he said.

Miller's stabbed and beaten body was found in a Saskatoon alley on a frigid morning Jan. 31, 1969.

DNA testing methods almost 20 years later, in 1988, were too crude to obtain a profile from old, dried-out samples. They also required large samples - at least 2.5 centimetres in diameter - and relatively fresh samples to find conclusive results.

A single cell will provide enough DNA for complete results now, Ferris said.

Methods from 1988 "would be considered almost a joke now. The science has advanced so dramatically in the last 10 years, there really is no way to compare," Ferris said.

Outside court, Ferris said his lab, which shut down in 1990, was a research facility and was never intended as a "full-service" laboratory, where tests are provided for clients.

"The only reason we did the tests at all was because of immense pressure from Joyce Milgaard," David Milgaard's mother, he said.

DNA profiling in 1988 may have been primitive, but it was cutting-edge compared to the tools available to Bruce Paynter, a retired RCMP forensic serologist.

Paynter could have examined the Miller exhibits in March 1969 only by sight, touch and ultraviolet light. He mainly relied on sight to find most of the semen samples, he said.

He testified that he found semen stains on Miller's underwear.

DNA testing didn't exist in 1969. Paynter told the jury he had no tests available to him which could specifically identify a suspect through his tests. He simply looked at the stain under a microscope and confirmed the presence of sperm.

On rare occasions a sample could be checked for blood type, which could narrow down possible suspects, he said.

Under cross-examination, Paynter said he did not find semen stains on any other parts of Miller's clothing, including her dress or coat.

Defence lawyer Brian Beresh pointed to a 10-centimetre long sample that was cut from the dress by scientists in 1997.

He asked Paynter if a semen stain that large would have been obvious when he examined the items in 1969.

"I would think so. I would like to think I would have found it," Paynter said. Crown prosecutor Dean Sinclair said last week he will call a scientist who found semen on the dress in 1997.

Sinclair also said he expects to call expert testimony which will show Fisher's DNA matches the semen found on the clothing.

Fisher, 50, is charged with rape and murder in connection with the death of Miller, a 20-year-old Saskatoon nursing assistant.

David Milgaard was charged with the crime and convicted in 1970 when he was 17. He was released following a long crusade by Joyce, 22 years later. In 1997 more sophisticated DNA test results excluded Milgaard as the man who deposited semen on Miller's clothing.

The Saskatchewan Department of Justice apologized to him for his conviction and imprisonment and, along with the federal government, paid him $10 million in compensation.


Three of Fisher's victims describe horrifying attacks

YORKTON - Larry Fisher put a knife to a 17-year-old woman's throat and raped her in a back alley a few months before Gail Miller was attacked in a similar way in the same area, Fisher's trial heard Monday.

The jury in Fisher's rape and murder trial heard emotionally wrenching and unusual "similar act" testimony Monday from three of his victims.

The women - now in their late 40s and early 50s - each faced Fisher and described in devastating detail how he held a knife to their throats, dragged them into back alleys, forced them to remove their clothing and raped them.

Fisher's rape spree ended in 1970 when Winnipeg police caught him running from the third victim with his pants around his ankles.

Fisher committed the first two rapes within seven blocks of where Miller's body was found Jan. 31, 1969.

"Helen," the first woman to testify Monday, was walking from her home at 412 Ave. D South on Nov. 13, 1968 to her boyfriend's home a few blocks to the west. Her real identity is protected by court order.

The 17-year-old woman saw Fisher coming down the street, but from the distance she thought it was her boyfriend.

Just after Fisher walked past her, he grabbed her from behind, dragged her into an alley and forced her to remove her clothing. He then ordered her to lay on her coat while he forced intercourse upon her.

At first Fisher muffled her screams with his hand while holding a paring knife or a jackknife to her throat.

"I was told not to scream, so I listened," said the first woman. She broke down twice on the stand. As she regained her composure, her hands trembled as she sipped water from a Styrofoam cup.

When Fisher was finished he ran off with most of the woman's clothing. She ran to the nearest home and knocked on the door.

Fisher's second victim was raped in an alley near 18th Street and Avenue H. Again he grabbed her from behind and dragged her into an alley.

He poked at the woman with a knife and forced her to remove her clothing. Like the first woman who testified Monday, he told her to lay on her coat before he raped her.

"He thought he heard a noise. He figured somebody was coming. He told me not to move, he'd be right back," she said. She ignored his order and escaped.

In this case, Fisher cut the woman with his knife somewhere below her waist. The woman didn't specify the location of the wound.

The second woman only found out this spring that Fisher had been arrested and convicted of her rape. Fisher pleaded guilty and his sentencing for the Saskatoon crimes was held in a Regina courtroom. His victims were not alerted, nor were the citizens of Saskatoon, court heard.

Fisher attacked the last victim in the spree in Winnipeg Sept. 16, 1970. The third woman was walking home from a bus stop in Winnipeg after a night out with her boyfriend.

The 18-year-old woman's boyfriend had offered to accompany her to her home in Winnipeg's south end. She told him she would be fine and continued alone because her boyfriend lived at the opposite end of the city.

The woman encountered Fisher less than a block from her home. After he passed, he grabbed her from behind and pulled her into a nearby alley with a knife in his hand.

The woman struggled briefly, but violently, alerting neighbours to her plight.

As Fisher had intercourse with her and groped for the knife that had fallen to the ground, police from the Winnipeg-area municipality of Ft. Garry arrived.

"They literally caught Larry trying to run away with his pants down," the woman said with a short burst of nervous laughter.

She read months later in a local newspaper that Fisher was convicted of her rape.

Fisher's lawyer, Brian Beresh, briefly cross-examined each witness in a hushed, deferential tone.

Through the witnesses, he pointed out that none of the women were seriously stabbed or slashed, none of the women were raped in extreme cold weather, and none of the women were robbed. Beresh also pointed out that Fisher pleaded guilty to the three rapes.

Miller was raped on a -42 degree day in January. She was stabbed and slashed 27 times. Her coat was removed before her dress was pulled down around her waist. Her coat was replaced before her assailant delivered fatal stabs to her back. A paring knife blade was found at the scene. The handle was later found in a nearby yard.

Of the three women who testified Monday, the Winnipeg victim recalled events most clearly and retained her composure on the stand.

Speaking outside court, she said her knowledge of Fisher's fate brought her closure 30 years ago. "My sense of closure came when they caught him and when he got sentenced. . . . Plus, I've been in therapy for most of my life."

She glared at Fisher as she left the stand Monday. She later said seeing him again in person brought back intense anger. Fisher showed no reaction to her stare.

Before and after the testimony, Justice Gerry Allbright gave the jury specific instructions on how they could use the women's testimony against Fisher.

He said the evidence could only be used as circumstantial proof of one factor in the Crown's case - the identity of Gail Miller's assailant. "You must not use this evidence for the purpose of concluding Mr. Fisher is simply a bad person who is likely to be guilty of the charge. You must not use it to reach conclusions on Mr. Fisher's character or disposition."

Judges don't usually allow evidence of previous crimes. Allbright said he allowed the evidence because of apparent similarities between the three rapes and Miller's case.

Fisher's ex-wife is expected to testify today.


Fisher's ex-wife suspected him of murder

YORKTON, SASK. - Larry Fisher's former wife took the stand Tuesday at his murder trial in Yorkton, Sask. Linda Fisher testified that her ex-husband looked guilty and turned pale when she first accused him of killing Gail Miller, 30 years ago.

Fisher is accused of the 1969 rape and murder of Miller. The body of the Saskatchewan nursing assistant was found in an alley in Saskatoon. She had been stabbed a dozen times.

David Milgaard was wrongfully convicted of the murder and spent 23 years in jail. He was exonerated in 1997 after DNA evidence showed that semen found at the crime scene didn't match his.

Linda Fisher testified that on the morning of the murder, she and her former husband had an argument. She said they heard about the rape and stabbing of a nursing assistant over the radio. During the dispute, she looked at Fisher and said "you probably killed that girl because I can't find my paring knife."

She testified that he suddenly turned pale, his hands dropped and he "had a guilty look on his face."

On the stand Tuesday, when Linda Fisher was asked to examine the knife blade found under Miller's body, and the handle found nearby, she positively identified it as the one that had gone missing from her kitchen.

Asked why she didn't go to the police until 11 years later, Fisher said she simply didn't make the connection between her knife and Miller's murder.

On Monday jurors heard testimony from three women he had raped in the late 1960s and early '70s.

This kind of testimony isn't usually permitted in trials, but the judge ruled that its value in establishing the facts outweighed its potential prejudice to the defence.

Fisher had pleaded guilty to all three rapes the jury heard about Monday and had been sentenced to prison.


Milgaard's semen not on dress, says scientist

YORKTON - David Milgaard could not have produced sperm found on Gail Miller's dress and underpants, a British scientist testified Thursday.

Michael Barber, a scientist from a government forensic laboratory in Weatherby, England, compared DNA from Milgaard's blood sample to semen stains on Miller's clothing in 1997.

"It did not match. No, the donor of that sample cannot be the source of the semen that we tested," Barber told the court.

Barber's tests led to the Saskatchewan government clearing Milgaard of Miller's murder and rape in 1997. He had served 23 years in prison for the crime before being released in 1992 by the Supreme Court.

The defence in Larry Fisher's rape and murder trial has repeatedly raised Milgaard as a possible alternative suspect in the killing of Gail Miller in 1969. Defence lawyer Brian Beresh has suggested that Milgaard was never eliminated as the murderer.

"You will hear that there is evidence Mr. Milgaard was eliminated as a suspect. That did not occur, he was not eliminated," Beresh told the jury at the beginning of the trial. He also said no Canadian lab has ever exonerated Milgaard.

At least part of the reason, court has heard over the first month of Fisher's trial, is that Canadian labs could not find the large semen stains discovered and tested by Barber in England. Two DNA tests conducted in 1988 and 1992 failed to produce results because the samples found in Canadian labs were too tiny.

Barber testified that he used newer DNA testing methods in 1997 that use smaller parts of the DNA molecule, producing better results from smaller samples.

Those are the tests that finally excluded Milgaard as the source of semen stains on Miller's clothing.

Beresh began his cross-examination of Barber by raising the case of Dr. John Schneeberger, the infamous Saskatchewan doctor who admitted to putting a tube in his arm in order to provide police with a phony blood sample.

Beresh asked Barber if "that sort of trickery" would affect the results of DNA tests from blood samples given by Milgaard.

"Clearly if the blood drawn wasn't your own blood, it would (affect results) but we don't take samples ourselves. We always get samples from others with labels on them," Barber answered.

As he cross-examined Barber, Beresh further pursued the theory Milgaard was involved in Miller's attack, pointing out that small, inconclusive semen stains, hair samples and a vaginal swab from Miller that disappeared decades ago, were not tested and did not exclude Milgaard.

"You don't know if those samples belonged to John Smith, John Doe or anybody else," Beresh said.

Beresh also listed all of the scientists who have examined the Miller exhibits, taken samples and conducted tests. Barber admitted he never contacted the scientists to get a complete case history of Miller's clothing since it was removed from her body in 1969.

Beresh questioned why Barber found the stains when two Canadian RCMP serologists missed them.

"Trained serologists would not miss a stain that large," Beresh said.

The Canadian serologists testified that they mainly relied on visual methods to examine the garments, along with random chemical tests on small areas.

Barber said he couldn't see the semen stains either. He used a chemical reaction test on "every inch" of Miller's clothing to find the stains, he said.


DNA expert links Fisher to murdered woman

YORKTON, SASK. - A DNA expert testified at the trial of Larry Fisher Friday that the chance of someone else's semen being on the clothes of the woman Fisher is accused of killing are one in 950 trillion.

"The mathematical possibility we would find two unrelated people who have a profile match in this way is extremely small," said Anne-Elizabeth Charland, an RCMP DNA expert in Ottawa.

She called this finding "extremely significant."

Fisher, 50, has been charged with the rape and murder of Gail Miller, a 20-year-old nurses' aide found dead in a snowbank in Saskatoon in 1969. David Milgaard was charged and convicted of the crime, spent 23 years in prison, but was exonerated as the result of DNA tests.

Charland testified she found male DNA on clothes worn by Miller that matched Fisher's DNA conclusively.


Crown rebuts implication Milgaard stabbed Miller: Witness says he saw no blood on Milgaard's clothes on morning nurse died

YORKTON - Around the time Gail Miller was killed in a Saskatoon alley, David Milgaard was chatting normally seven blocks away with Walter Danchuk, helping him push his red 1964 convertible out of a snow bank.

Danchuk, a resident of Avenue T South who was trying to drive his wife to work on Jan. 31, 1969, testified Tuesday at Larry Fisher's murder trial that Milgaard looked normal, showing no signs of blood or a recent struggle during two hours of conversation and waiting.

The evidence at Fisher's trial drew near an end Tuesday with the Crown calling three witnesses in defence of Milgaard.

The defence ended its case Tuesday afternoon just before the Crown called rebuttal witnesses. Rebuttal evidence is somewhat unusual, but the Crown was countering the defence's implication that Milgaard killed Miller.

Court has heard Miller usually left her home around 6:45 a.m. to catch a 7 a.m. bus to work at City Hospital. Her frozen body was found around 8:20 a.m.

Milgaard's friend at the time, Nichol John, has been the source of contradictory evidence that she saw Milgaard stab a girl in an alley near Avenue O after their car got stuck in snow. She also gave several statements that nothing unusual happened that morning.

John gave her incriminating statement once in 1969, two months after Miller's death. She never recalled or repeated the story before or after giving the statement.

Around 6:50 a.m., right around the time Miller should have been catching her bus, Margaret Lennox was peering out her front window looking for the taxi that was due at 6:55 a.m.

The taxi pulled up a car length from where Milgaard's car was supposedly stuck at the time. Lennox was also a few hundred feet from where Milgaard supposedly grabbed and stabbed the girl.

Lennox testified Tuesday that she saw no car and no people in the alley during the several minutes she spent looking out her window. She couldn't see the spot where Miller's body was found.

Twenty-five minutes after Lennox caught her taxi - at about 7:20 a.m. - and about six blocks away, Milgaard, John and their friend Ron Wilson came across Danchuk's stuck vehicle.

The trio stopped to help Danchuk extricate the car, but both cars ended up stalled in the alley in the -40 C weather.

About 30 to 45 minutes later, Danchuk gave Milgaard and his friends a ride to a nearby garage.

Danchuk said Milgaard and his friends had no blood on them, contradicting defence evidence from a witness who was five years old in 1969.

They finally parted company around 9:30 a.m., after the trio returned to get their car. Danchuk said Milgaard got $12 from John to pay the tow truck driver.

Danchuk had great difficulty remembering details from the incident in 1969. Most of his testimony was recalled from a statement he gave to police at the time.

The trial continues today.


Lid put on Fisher evidence: Judge tosses lawyer's efforts to allow media to release details

YORKTON - The judge in the Larry Fisher murder trial has permanently banned the media from publishing the last pieces of evidence from Fisher's defence case.

The evidence deals with an RCMP scientist who controlled Gail Miller's dress and a sample of Fisher's semen for seven years. Fisher, 50, is on trial for the 1969 rape and murder of Miller, a 20-year-old nursing assistant in Saskatoon.

As the defence case rested Tuesday, final witnesses were called to advance the theory that RCMP serologist Patricia Alain may have put semen from Fisher's sample on Gail Miller's clothing.

This week, the defence has pointed to the period between 1992 and 1999 when Alain handled both Fisher's semen and Miller's clothing. The testimony of two doctors who were among the final defence witnesses was banned from publication. Alain has a medical condition which has kept her from testifying at Fisher's trial.

Queen's Bench Justice Gerry Allbright banned any details from the doctors' testimony from ever being published.

"The jury will have heard this evidence, (it's) not deprived of the ability to use that information," Allbright said. "It's an unusual order and it's an order that must be made only in exceptional circumstances."

Grant Currie, lawyer for The StarPhoenix, the National Post and the CBC, asked the judge to set aside the ban Tuesday morning, arguing the public has a right to know all the evidence that goes before Fisher's jury.

Allbright rejected his arguments. The newspapers and the CBC will now decide if they will appeal the decision.

Fisher gave blood, hair, saliva, urine and semen samples in 1992 controlled by Alain until 1999.

Alain lost her notes on the case during that period. She also failed to find large semen stains on Miller's dress in 1992 that were later discovered by a British scientist. The search she conducted in 1992 was the first case work she had done since 1989, when she took on an administrative role.

In sworn evidence she gave in 1998, Alain testified that she never even opened Fisher's semen case. She said she forwarded two blood samples taken at the same time for the DNA tests which followed.

The doctor who originally took Fisher's sample and handed it to Alain testified Monday that one of two pieces of tape he used to seal Fisher's semen container was missing.

Dr. Peter Davison carefully examined the container in court Monday and said the container still appears to be sealed despite the missing tape.

A British lab found a semen stain the size of a softball on Miller's dress in 1997 during the time Alain was in charge of both the dress and Fisher's semen sample. Subsequent DNA tests matched Fisher's blood to the semen on the dress. The odds are 950 trillion-to-one that the semen did not belong to Fisher.

DNA tests around the same time were used to exonerate David Milgaard, who spent 23 years in prison for Miller's murder.

Milgaard's DNA didn't match the semen on Miller's dress.