Crown drops Ottawa murder case for fear of wrongful convictions

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The Ottawa Police Homicide Unit lost a murder case after detectives supported a broke and mentally ill crack addict as a star eyewitness, only for him to admit to the bar that he actually has no recollection of ever seeing one of the accused at the scene. .

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The explosive testimony was revealed during a mind-boggling cross-examination piloted by defense attorney Solomon Friedman on June 25.

Friedman easily dismantled the police account and asked his star witness, under oath, to unravel all the lies Рthe ones the so-called witness told from start to the 911 operator, through to the end in a interview room with a seasoned detective. Guy S̩guin.

Friedman couldn’t even complete his master class in cross-examination because he had already left the police narrative, as well as the force’s star witness’s credibility, in tatters only halfway – to such an extent that Tim Wightman, the Assistant Crown Attorney charged with adopting and pursuing the faulty police case, stood up and ordered that Michael Leduc, the accused killer, be immediately released on bail in light of this which the prosecutor called a “shocking development”.

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The prosecutor wanted the weekend to speak to management about the police case and on the morning of June 28, Wightman told the court that the Ottawa Crown prosecutor’s office was dropping second degree murder cases against Michael Leduc, 45, and Robert Theoret, 60.

The murder charges were dropped for fear of wrongful convictions.

The so-called star witness – Kevin Albert, 50 – first told police he was not even at home in Vanier when his roommate Gaetan Jolin, 55, was beaten to death on February 20 2019. He even concocted a story about where he was – down to the times, location, and details of what he had for lunch at the shelter (spicy tomato soup).

Albert was a compulsive liar at the time – a shameful part of his life, he told the court – and would do or say just about anything if it benefited him, especially when it came to to score his next crack.

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Albert ended up giving three statements to detectives three days after the February 20, 2019 murder. He went from not being home to a star eyewitness after Det. Guy Seguin dangled the benefits of the witness protection program.

The offer of a paying new life in witness protection came at a time when Albert said he was a layer under the bottom. He smoked crack while taking medication for a small grocery list of mental illnesses – including borderline personality disorder, which prompted him to try to please people, even police investigating one. another Vanier homicide.

Albert testified that he would say or do anything for his next crackdown and said his constant lies were part of his shameful life, but that he was in “survival mode”. He testified as a featured witness in June, saying he suffered from PTSD and sometimes froze in time and experienced a state of dissociation in the face of violence, where he floated and looked down on himself – like the day of the murder, he told the court. .

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He told so many lies back then that he testified that he no longer knew the facts of fiction. Some of the lies he told didn’t benefit him and he just made them up as he went along, the court said.

Albert is now part of the witness protection program, although his testimony not only failed to secure convictions, but instead derailed the prosecution under intense cross-examination by Friedman.

Albert testified that he wanted to put all his lies behind him and finally tell the truth because he did not want to participate in the wrongly sentencing of two men to prison.

On cross-examination, Albert, who now lives under a new identity, agreed that he may have made up the scenes in his confused, mentally ill, crack addict mind. In fact, he told the court that he had no real recollection of the events in question.

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Friedman, who represented Leduc alongside Vanessa Garcia, said his client had always maintained his innocence and “knew the truth would come out at trial.”

Friedman noted that Canada’s criminal justice system has a sad history of wrongful convictions “perpetrated by incredible and mistaken eyewitnesses, including those who testify in exchange for inducements and inducements.”

He added that Wightman, the deputy crown attorney, had done the right thing in ending a lawsuit “which had been shown to be unreliable and untenable”.

Leduc has spent more than two years in prison awaiting trial and is now free and eager to rebuild his life, Friedman said.

Leduc’s co-accused Theoret was also cleared of a second degree murder charge in light of the shocking testimony of the star witness.

His lawyer, Kirstin Macrae, said the Crown made the “right decision” in staying the charges.

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