The Federal government released the Report on the Prevention of Miscarriages of Justice. This should be required reading for every prosecutor, cop, and criminal defence lawyer in the country. Federal prosecutor's report 2005
April 29, 2013: Walrus Magazine has a feature by Julian Sher about the Walchuk case, titled "Trials and Error". Sher is an investigate reporter with the Toronto Star and author of 6 books. He has done extensive research on this case and explains how bad forsenic evidence and junk science continue to send innocent people to jail and how our Justice System makes it difficult for people who have been wrongfully convicted to clear their names. An eye opener for those who believe our legal system is fair and just in all cases.
We apologize for not keeping our readers up to date on what has happened in the past several months. It has been a hectic year with a number of major obstacles to overcome. My father passed away this spring after losing a battle with cancer. I had hoped he'd have been around to see this mess resolved, but that was not meant to be. In addition to this, we ended up with having the worse crop in our farming history due to the drought. 2001 has been a difficult year indeed.
Now for some better news. After losing my appeal, my lawyer, Hersh Wolch, suggested that I find someone qualified in the area of fire investigations, to take a look at this aspect of my case more closely. The Crown's "expert" never did determine the actual cause of the fire and the Judge "assumed" it was intentionally started. Nothing was ever proven one way or the other beyond a reasonable doubt.
When I was initially interviewed by the RCMP, I stated that I heard an arcing type of sound, but was not certain where it came from. The police did their best to down play or ignore an accidental cause for the fire and went off down a different path. They even went so far as to tamper with or ignore important evidence which could have proven my innocence. Instead, they worked towards "building" a case against me.
During this past summer, we began looking for someone qualified to properly assess the information and do an objective and thorough evaluation of what had occurred. Our search lead us to Peter Pendlebury of Fire Investigations and Analysis from Nanton, AB. All information from the preliminary hearing, the trial transcripts, photos, video tapes, as well as a site examination, were used to prepare a report regarding the cause and origin of the fire.
While I was not surprised by the findings of this report, it will likely prove to be an eye opener for anyone who subscribed to the idea that I might burn my own home.
After reviewing all the available information on this matter, Mr. Pendlebury went further, testing items and materials taken during his visit to the site. His findings in these areas further strengthen our case.
Although I can not release all the details of the report at this time due to pending legal action, I can assure you that the determined cause of this fire was not intentional. Rather it was the result of stupidity and frustration on the part of my soon to be ex-wife, who realized that she would receive nothing financially in our divorce. As soon as my lawyers give their approval, you will find the complete report available to you on our site.
Leon Walchuk, Jan. 21, 2002
REGINA - Saskatchewan's highest court has rejected the appeal of a convicted murderer from Melville. Leon Dale Walchuk killed his estranged wife, Corinne, three years ago, by beating her, then setting the house on fire.
He was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 16 years. On Monday, a panel of three justices upheld both theconviction and the sentence.
"I guess we're very pleased to see that the ruling was upheld," says Kent Siegele, who speaks for the victim's family.
"It took us many months and several years to get to where we did. So, to see the appeal court uphold that ruling has been very re-inforcing for the family that the judicial system is there to protect [the] people of Saskatchewan."
Walchuk's lawyer says he has not been given any direction on whether to seek leave to appeal before the Supreme Court. But Hersh Wolch doubts the Supreme Court would hear an appeal anyway.
Without a dispassionate weighing of all the evidence, there can be no justice. The Walchuk case is rife with reasonable doubt. Running roughshod over this doubt will not bring Corinne Walchuk back to life.
Justice was once again abandoned in favour of pandering to public sentiment by three Saskatchewan appeal court judges who cast aside pretension to fairness and upheld the sentence of Leon Walchuk. There is a tragic element to the death of Corinne Walchuk. The tragedy is compounded by the rush to lock up her estranged husband, ignoring compelling evidence that he did not kill her.
The men wearing the robes in Regina were unanimous as they sent Walchuk back to jail to serve 16 years, This makes it far more difficult for Walchuk to take his case to the Supreme Court.
The media has scoffed at Walchuk comparing himself to Milgaard. The public should be grateful the Internet exists to provide coverage of the part of the story that doesn't sell advertising. The disappearance of the hockey stick, a crucial item of evidence will nag at the integrity of this province just as the paring knife did in the Milgaard case.
Until Saskatchewan comes to its senses, Leon Walchuk remains imprisoned in a long line of improperly convicted people awaiting attention from the over-burdened people fighting for justice for others like himself.
Bulletin: Leon Walchuk's appeal submission is here. injusticebusters originally created this page in November, 2000 to make the information available while friends of Walchuk created their own website. They have now accomplished this and we wish them well.
inJusticebusters: had posted defence lawyer Aaron Fox's closing statement at the trial for three months. We have taken it down to make room for new files on the site. We recommend that you visit Leon Walchuk's Saskatchewangold site for this information.
The question that arises over and over again is why do defence lawyers in Saskatchewan get away with providing inadequate defences? They still charge the big bucks and they get paid whether they win or lose. Leon Walchuk has land he can mortgage so he is in a position to appeal his conviction, although he also stands to lose much to legal costs even if he wins. What about the people who cannot afford to hire private lawyers? The record for legal aid and court appointed lawyers in Saskatchewan is abysmal.
June 14, 2000, Leon Walchuk was convicted of second degree murder of his wife, Cori. The trial was held in Yorkton and the publicity in Saskatchewan said Walchuk killed his wife, threw her in the basement of his house and set the house on fire on March 30, 1998. The defence's alternative interpretation of the facts showed Corinne Walchuk's death as accidental.
In the absence of a case for first degree murder, Judge Larry Kyle convicted Walchuk of second degree murder. In his written judgement Kyle accepted the Crown's construction of the story. He dealt with the troublesome lack of motive and defence evidence by using the aphorism "Even the devil knoweth not the mind of man," and sentencing Walchuk to life with no eligibility for parole for 16 years!
Perhaps the devil knoweth neither the mentality of a small Saskatchewan community which has been whipped into hysteria on coffee row. Corinne partied with some of the same RCMP officers who arrested Leon Walchuk and testified at his trial. Corinne worked at the local newspaper. Everyone knew that Leon and Corinne were in the middle of a messy divorce. For four years they had shared custody of their two children on a 50-50 basis. Often Corinne had them during the week and Leon cared for them on weekends. That was the situation on the evening of the fire.
Important evidence supporting Walchuk's claim of innocence was withheld from the defence.
The police conduct -- arresting a man for murder based on a whim rather than evidence, mismanagement of the crime scene, "losing" evidence -- has an eerily familiar ring in Saskatchewan. The sound of that ring is David Milgaard. Thirty years later, it would seem the police are still up to the same old tricks.
Leon Walchuk probably should not have been arrested and charged with murder in the first place. Walchuk was injured and in shock when he was taken into custody by Constable Blaine Oster. While it makes sense that he would be questioned in the course of an investigation, the hasty arrest and charge make no sense at all. Meanwhile, another friend of the victim, Constable Wayne Dingle, remained at the scene. Dingle must have quickly concluded that Corinne had been murdered because he arranged for Leon's arrest and the apprehension of the children almost immediately. No court order regarding the children was obtained until April 6, 1998.
According to his testimony, after Leon escaped the fire which claimed Corinne's life, he immediately called his mother from his cellular phone and she called the fire department. Leon went to the hospital in Melville where he showed signs of shock and left, against doctor's advice, after receiving a pill which calmed him down. At this time he did not know that Corinne was still inside the burning house. On his way home from the hospital, accompanied by friends, his vehicle was stopped and he was arrested.
The "crime" scene itself was not secured with as much diligence as was paid to arresting Leon Walchuk and apprehending his children. Forensic evidence does not support the Crown's theory of the case. Two firearms experts attended the autopsy which would suggest they were looking for a bullet. There was none. The theory that he bludgeoned her to death is also not sustained by the coroner's finding that she died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The fire and the death in Melville certainly lent themselves to sensationalist speculation which sells coffee, doughnuts and newspapers. It is up to the media and the courts to rise to a higher standard of objectivity. This they utterly failed to do.
A former Melville residence serving a life sentence for second degree murder of his wife is using a pair of controversial Internet sites to proclaim his innocence.
Using the "injusticebusters" and "saskatchewangold" sites, Leon Walchuk blames overzealous and careless police work and hysterical media reports for his conviction last summer for the March 30, 1998 murder of estranged wife Cori.
Both sites run similar information about Walchuk's case and subsequent sentence and are linked.
Injusticebusters' creators, Richard Klassen and Sheila Steele, both of Saskatoon, have been harshly critical of police and prosecutors since the website first made its appearance three years ago.
Klassen is one of 12 people currently suing police and prosecutors for falsely accusing them of sexually assaulting three foster children a decade ago.
The 12 were among 16 originally charged with 60 counts of sexually molesting the children in 1991.
Recently the Saskatoon police and the province attempted to get a judge to sanction Klassen and Steele for ignoring publication bans to expose details of the false arrest case.
Recently a judge ordered the injusticebusters' editors to stop publishing details of the foster-child case until the civil case is resolved.
Meanwhile, injusticebusters remains in business, drawing attention to what its authors consider mailicious and unjust prosecutions of innocent people.
In Walchuk's case, Klassen and Steele liken his conviction to that of David Milgaard, who spent more than 20 years in jail for the rape and murder of a Saskatoon woman in the late sixties.
Milgaard was pardoned in the early 1990s and eventually exonerated of the charges against him.
After a nine-day trial in Yorkton last June, Judge Larry Kyle sentenced the 37 year old Walchuk to life with no possibility of parole for 16 years.
The minimum sentence allowed under Canadian legal precedent for second degree murder is life with no possibility of parole for 10 years.
However, Kyle stated in his sentencing remarks that Walchuk is an offensive, remorseless man of seriously deficient character.
The Crown counsel had originally charged Walchuk with first degree murder, but Kyle said the evidence wasn't strong enough to prove premeditation.
Cori Walchuk's body was found by firefighters responding to a fire at Leon's farm.
Her body was found in the home's basement. She had been beaten about the head and had been burned by the fire.
About 30 Crown and two defence witnesses testified at the trial.
But injusticebusters state that the evidence linking Walchuk with the crime was mostly circumstantial.
The site's authors also throw a shadow of conspiracy by police and prosecutors over the whole Walchuk conviction.
Important evidence supporting Walchuk's claim of innocence was withheld from the defence, Klassen and Steele state on the site.
"The police conduct -- arresting a man for murder based on a whim rather than evidence, mismanagement of the crime scene, losing evidence -- has an eerily familiar ring in Saskatchewan. The sound of that ring is David Milgaard. Thirty years later it would seem the police are still up to the same old tricks."
Injusticebusters single out Melville RCMP constables Blaine Oster and Wayne Dingle suggesting the two jumped quickly to arrest Walchuk because they are Cori's friends.
"Walchuk was injured and in shock when he was taken into custody by Constable Blaine Oster. While it makes sense that he would be questioned in the course of an investigation, the hasty arrest and charge make no sense at all.
"Meanwhile, another friend of the victim, Constable Wayne Dingle remained at the scene. Dingle must have quickly concluded that Cori had been murdered because he arranged for Cori's arrest and the apprehension of the children almost immediately."
Walchuk is currently applying to the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal to take another look at his conviction.
The appeal application isn't expected to be heard by the court until March.
Attempts to contact the injusticebusters' editors or Klassen's lawyer, Ed Holgate by phone were unsuccessful.
injusticebusters are generally pleased with the above report. We have only two quibbles. Firstly, we do not proclaim Leon Walchuk's innocence, but we do say that he did not receive a fair trial. We provide Leon Walchuk with a forum to proclaim his own innocence. We raise some of the questions that we think the media should have been raising at the time.
Secondly, we do not want the public to think we are hard to reach. We are an Internet site and we can always be reached by e-mail. We have arranged many telephone conversations through this method. We are always available to discuss material on the site.
We are pleased the Melville Advance picked up on the David Milgaard connection. We would point out that most of the rallying around David Milgaard during his lengthy incarceration was based on the belief that he did not receive a fair trial. In Milgaard's case there was a perpetrator, Larry Fisher, whose very existence police hid from the defence. The paring knife from Fisher's kitchen which his then-girlfriend offered as the murder weapon was conveniently stolen from a Queen's Bench evidence lock-up by thieves who were friendly with police. The cover-up continued until Milgaard received his pardon and was then totally exonerated with DNA evidence. We know that evidence exists in the Walchuk case which could be as powerful as DNA evidence was in Milgaard's. We trust that such evidence will be proffered at subsequent court hearings.
When police, prosecutors and courts are working properly in this country, they work very well. injusticebusters are there to raise questions when they do not. We are also frustrated and angry with the media who should be raising these questions but do not. Too often reporters accept press releases from the crown or the police as truthful when often they are not.
Our defiance of the court-ordered publication ban on the Klassen foster parent case and the lying testimony of the Ross children coached by Superintendent Brian Dueck is a case in point. All those names are out there, now, since the Fifth Estate had the courage to run them. We hope that reporters will take it to heart that a tiny website run by two people did their job for them and didn't even get paid. We hope they will rise to the standard we are trying to set.
This will be submitted as a letter to the editor of the Melville advance. We hope they will give a big plug to the saskatchewangold.com site which now has a lot of the material previously found here.
Sheila Steele and Richard Klassen
May 15, 1998, from Hansard: Mr. Osika: - Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Liberal opposition raised concerns earlier this week about two Melville children who are caught in the middle of a custody fight. Leon Walchuk has been charged with the murder of his estranged wife and came within hours of getting unsupervised custody of their children.
We believe this demonstrates how in some cases there must be a mechanism that kicks in to help children when the system fails.
My question is to the Minister of Social Services. Following question period I will be introducing the child protection Act which aims to add some teeth to the system. The minister has a copy of this Bill and my question is, will he be supporting this legislation?
Injusticebusters suggest this is making political hay at the expense of a man who had shared custody of his children before he was charged. It seems to be often forgotten in this province that a person is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. However, sometimes the authorities like to add some hysteria into the mix to tip the scales toward the verdict they hope to get.
Compare Leon Walchuk's story with the one below, remembering Walchuk has maintained his innocence and was convicted on cirumstantial evidence but got 16 years
MONTREAL (CP) - A man who strangled his wife to death will have to wait 12 years before being eligible for parole, a judge ruled Friday. Robert Gaudette, 43, had been found guilty Thursday of second-degree murder, a conviction that brought an automatic life sentence. Gaudette initially tried to convince police that his wife, Cindy Bouchard, had been kidnapped by a gang in 2000.
The jury recommended he serve at least 15 years before being allowed to seek parole.
Crown prosecutor Pierre Poulin had requested that Gaudette serve at least 13 years, while defence lawyer Marc Labelle asked for 10, the minimum allowable by law.
The jury delivered its verdict after deliberating for three days.
Evidence showed Gaudette strangled Bouchard after a fight in April 2000 and left her body in a dumpster.
He then went to police and told them she had been kidnapped by either Asian or Arab gangs.
Gaudette eventually confessed to police after a lengthy interrogation and led them to the body in a garbage bin.