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The Milgaard Case Essay, Research Paper
If one was asked to think of one phrase to describe the Milgaard case the only
phrase which would be suitable and appropriate would be the old saying ?at the wrong
place, at the wrong time?. Mr. Milgaard?s whole case revolves around those words.
His trial is one full of corruption, misleading and dishonesty by the people and system
that we trust in daily. It is an example of a misidentify and the incapability of the justice
system to provide the Mr. Milgaard with a fair and equal trial since the beginning of this
whole tragic story.
On January 30, 1969, a 16 year old David Milgaard decided to take a road trip
accompanied by his friends Ron Wilson and Nicholl John. Their trip would take them
from Regina to other destinations in the west part of Canada. It was also decided that
they would stop in Saskatoon to visit Milgaard?s friend Albert Cadrain. In the early
hours of January 31 the trio arrived at Saskatoon looking for the Cadrain house. None
knew the city well and although Milgaard had visited his friend before he could only
remember certain vantage points. Around 7:00 am, they arrived at a motel where they
asked the manager for directions to Albert?s house. However, shortly after, they became
stuck in an alley way and took shelter in Mr. Walter Danchuk?s house, the owner of the
car that they had been stuck behind. They arrived at Albert?s house around 9:00 am and
then spend the rest of the day waiting for their car to be fixed. After their car had been
fixed they set out once again in their trip. On the same day, roughly at 8:30 am the
stabbed and sexually assaulted body of nursing assistant Gail Miller was found a block
from Albert?s house in an alley way.
When the group returned to Regina, Albert was arrested for vagrancy. He was
questioned by the police and initially denied any connection by him or the others to the
Saskatoon murder. However, once he returned to his home town he commented to his
brother that he had noticed blood on David Milgaard?s pants. His brother apparently
advice the police of this and the police adapted Milgaard as a suspect.
As the investigation proceeded the police gathered evidence which pointed David
as the prime suspect. David who held his innocence, provided the authorities with any
thing requested, including bodily samples. However, it was no use since he was charged
with the non-capital murder of Gail Miller. Exactly a year later after his initial road trip
David Milgaard was convicted and sentenced to twenty-five years in jail.
Shortly after the conviction, the Milgaard family appealed to the Saskatchewan
Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada. However both courts dismissed the
case. Since then David?s mother, Ms. Milgaard has fought for her son?s innocence. She
joined with Herch Wolch, Q.C., and David Asper of a law firm to help her save her son.
One of the lawyers, Mr. Asper reviewed the trial transcripts and the preliminary enquiry
to the exhibits. He then concluded that the evidence provided not the guiltiness of
Milgaard but quite the opposite, it proved that he was innocent.
After reading an article on DNA on genetic finger printing, Mr. Aspen informed
Ms. Milgaard on it. Ms. Milgaard then went to Dr. James Ferris a forensic pathologist.
He was granted with many of the exhibits present in the trial, but due to the age and size
of the sample the results were inconclusive. However, in a report dated September
13,1988, Dr. Ferris stated that the evidence, since inconclusive could not link David
Milgaard with the murder and could be considered ?to exclude him from being the
perpetrator of the murder.? Beside this Mr. Aspen had also been working in getting other
evidence to prove the innocence of David.
On December 28,1988 an application was present to the Minister of Justice who
that time was Joe Clark. He was a follower of the Section 617 of the Criminal Code of
Canada. This section states that the Minister can order a new trial or hearing as well as
appeal to the Courts of Appeal and ask the Court of Appeal for their opinion or ask a
question. After the application was submitted new fragments of evidence were provided
which proved and supported David Milgaard?s innocence. However, besides all these
new facts provided it was not until Ms. Milgaard attended the Opera show that the
Canadian government paid close attention to the case. In 1994 Prime minister Jean
Cretien ordered a retrial and it was during this trial that the true colors of the Saskatoon
It is hard to believe that it took 22 years for the courts to accept that Mr.
Milgaard was not guilty. One needs to just look at the evidence and one can see that
there was no possible form that he could have committed the crime. If you commence at
the beginning from where it all started you can recognize all the missing pieces of the
puzzle. In fact by using the own Crown?s evidence against Milgaard one can prove that
he is innocent.
In the trial Milgaard?s friends had testified against him. Wilson and Nicholl
testified that the site were the car had broken down had been in the area were the crime
was committed. They in addition said that both Milgaard and Wilson had left the car to
get help and it was at this time that Milgaard met the victim. Nicholl added that she had
witnessed the crime from her sitting position in the car. Although it must be noted that
she tried to withdraw her evidence. Later in the trial Cadrain and Wilson declare that
Milgaard had admitted to them about the crime and that they had seen blood in his pants.
Wilson also said that he recalled Milgaard carrying a knife similar to the one supposedly
used in the crime.
In the beginning of the whole account, Wilson had first stated that neither he or
anyone of his friends had been involved in the crime, but as the police interviews
continued he changed his story and held Milgaard as the murderer. However in 1990 Mr.
Wilson admitted to lying in trial to the Department of Justice. It was also investigated
that Cadrain suffered a mental illness. This could have contributed to his testimony since
he suffered this illness during and after the Milgaard trial. In contribution to this,
Cadrain has claimed that his declarations were the result of extreme pressure by the
police. Shortly after the trial Cadrain was admitted to a mental hospital. One can then
conclude that he was in no capacity to testified and any of part of his testimony could not
be taken very serious. Thus one can see that this part of the crowns case is worthless and
cannot possibly lead to anyone believing that Mr. Milgaard was guilty.
The other part which contributed to the conviction of Milgaard was the forensic
evidence found on the scene of the crime. This involved two yellow clumps found, which
were believed to be semen. The semen supposedly contained type A antigens which only
a type A blood person would have. Ironically Milgaard had type A blood. However,
there most be millions of people with type A blood, therefore to narrow it down to
Milgaard is impossible. In addition these antigens are only found in blood. Blood which
in this case could only be found in the secrete which accompanies the semen. However
it was found that Mr. Milgaard is a none-secreted. Thus connecting the accused with
this is not only impossible but ridiculous.
Furthermore tests run by Dr. Peter Markesteyn proved that the frozen yellow
clump could not have been the semen of Milgaard or anyone in that case. He came to
that conclusion because he himself froze semen. He then drooped some in the snow and
concluded that the semen stays white and does not turn yellow. Thus, this clump could
not have been semen. For all we know it cold have been dog?s urine. Since this test have
been taken new DNA studies have proved that the sperm found on the victim was not that
of Mr. Milgaards.
A further evidence presented by the crown was that of re-enactment. The crown
had two eye witnesses that testified that Milgaard had shown them how he had
accomplished the crime at a party and admitted to the crime. However it is very
particular that the individuals were both facing criminal charges at the time. Perhaps
they were pressure to say this in returned of a lighter sentenced. Either way it has been
discovered that one of the girls had provided the police with a statement in which she
argued and disagreed with that version of the story. Also Ms. Hall, one of the girls which
testified against him later submitted a sworn evidence to the Department of justice in
which she clearly states that all that was spoken at the trial by her had been a lied.
From this evidence one can then conclude that Mr. Milgaard was wrongly
accused and that he is innocent in every aspect of the word. Nonetheless there are more
pieces of this puzzle which without a doubt prove his freedom from guilt.
For instance take the time of the crime. It is believed that Gail Miller left her
house at 7:00 am. At the same time on the outskirts of town Milgaard and his friends
were asking the manager for directions. It was also at this time that the caretaker
claimed to have seen the car in the alley way. Thus it could have not been the car in
which Milgaard was traveling. Furthermore, it was a half an hour later, that they became
stuck behind Mr. Danchuk?s car. Both cars became stuck and the group was forced to
wait for a tow truck for an hour in the Danchuk?s house. This would have made the time
around 8:30 am. They reached their friends house around 9:00 am. The body was
supposedly found at 8:30 am. Thus unless Mr. Milgaard has ability to be two places at
the same time. He could not have been present at the time of the accident.
As stated before the group of friends spent the day waiting for their car to be
fixed. Hence, if Milgaard had committed the crime he would have wanted to leave the
town as soon as possible. However, this was not the case. He also did not have money.
If he would have committed the crime then he would have had some money since the
pursed of the victim was found empty. There is no doubt then, that Mr. Milgaard was
just another victim.
In fact through the defense long investigation, the true culprit of this case was
found. Mr. Fisher was charged with this crime after a DNA test prove that he had been
present at the scene of the crime. It was also found that the accused lived in the
basement of the Cadrain home, with his wife. It was also found that he had been
responsible for other sexual assaults in the area, during and after the death of Gail Miller.
This explains why the purse contents were scattered and led a trail to the Cadrain house.
Based on this evidence, it is possible to conclude that this case was treated with
unprofessional, corruption, and laziness. The police had the responsibility to find the
culprit of this crime. If they would have had the iniciative to actually look into the case,
they could have avoided the pain and suffering that the other women had to go through.
Thanks to them women were robbed of their human rights, society as a whole was put in
danger and an innocent man was placed in jail. However, the police chose to pick on a
poor teenager, who had no way to defend himself. They through at him false witnesses
and evidence all which ended in his conviction. Instead of having put so much effort into
falsely accusing someone, they should have used that effort to find the real criminal.
After the efforts of a loving mother for decades and a complete investigation by
Mr. Aspen, Mr. Milgaard was finally released and cleared of all charges. He is now
married and since has received money form the government reaching an estimated
amount of $10 million dollars to accommodate any stress caused by his years in jail.
Although this case had a blissful ending, what about all those others who have
been convicted wrongly every year by the justice system. How are we then to trust the
courts? The courts are there to protect our human rights, however, cases like the
Milgaard one put our trust in the Justice System to question. The courts need to
reconstruct themselves. Situations like this ones should not accrued even by mistake.
Specially situations in which the police are just too ?preoccupied? with other things to
treat cases with the priority they are intitled to. Hence, in order to receive the treatment
that we need, we ourselves need to protect ourselves. If we don?t who will? the Justice
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