Heart to Heart
It's time to put this Trial Blog on the shelf. The closing arguments are over and I need to pay attention to my real life until autumn - probably early October when I expect the judge to give her verdict.
Since I was sick and focused on stifling sneezes and trying to breath during the arguments, I do want to revisit it all -- and then shelve it.
There are those who want to know my verdict - that is if I'm allowed to have one.
I was a little disappointed with this trial. I remember the first preliminary hearing where everyone around the table was in hot pursuit of the truth. The first trial also had the same obsession.
But this second retrial was different. It often felt as if it had dissolved into a game of chess - a new kind of lawyer chess, I suppose. Admittedly it was exciting to watch the players try to out maneuver each other. There were some brilliant moves on either side. We expect this game-playing from the Defence, but during this trial we saw the Crown up to the challenge and make some very unexpected and dramatic moves to our delight.
The first dramatic move I remember was that the announcement that the 14 foot rope was indeed in the room, so not all the DNA had been used, which if it had been all used up, could have resulted in an acquittal. The other was when the Crown outlined the merits of the nuclear DNA, which had been the main reason for the high-powered experts, and then promptly discarded it as not being important.
Games or no games, the question always is - will he be found guilty or not guilty?
At the end of the other trial, hearings and appeals, I've always polled the visitors and friends who have attended or followed it in the media as to their opinion. I've done it this time as well. The results are always mixed but this time I would say that the most informed of the group predict that he will be found guilty.
I'm finding it hard to predict. While I am still convinced from all the evidence that I have heard in the courtroom and outside the courtroom that he is guilty, I'm not sure now what the judge has heard and what weight she will put on it. But my hesitation is no indication of the outcome, I've never been right the other times.
During the first trial, I was surprised at the verdict. During the two appeals, provincial and the Supreme Court of Canada, I was convinced that they would rule in favor of the jury decision. I was wrong. And even though I thought I was prepared either way - I was flummoxed by the decisions.
So I will wait patiently for the fall.
Did we learn anything new in this second trial?
There were two new issues that arose during this trial. The testimony of an officer involved in the first police search was new. Right from the beginning way back in 1985, he had always claimed that he looked into the shed where Candace was found 17 days later and never saw her - naturally defending his role as a police officer in a search.
If he was correct - the case could fall apart. Much of the evidence is based on the crime scene. However, put to the test of a cross-examination, he couldn't defend himself convincingly. Even back then, seventeen days after the search, he couldn't remember the placement of the shed or the contents. He had been frantic.
The second new issue was the in regards to the Nuclear DNA. Through the good work of the Defence and his experts, he pointed out the striking difference between the second and third run which had no written explanation of what could have changed. This new argument resulted in the Crown giving no weight to the Nuclear DNA.
However the rest of the evidence was sound. The friend who had heard Grant confess and then was threatened by him, remains convincing. The emphasis on the narrative together with the remaining two unchallenged DNA, (mitochondrial and YSTR), make it a strong case. The issue of the box car abduction was addressed and found wanting so I am satisfied with it all.
But imagine - it's been almost 33 years now that this question, "Who killed Candace?" has been a very real question not only for us as a family but for her peers who were greatly impacted by her disappearance and murder and all of Winnipeg.
The last question I ask myself after all of this is -- was this process worth it? Are we as a province spending too much time and money on this?
On one level, I do feel guilty about it - and I do wonder if it is worth it all.
On another level, I think the justice issues are integral to the health of a province - to the health of a nation.
This isn't only about Candace and our family, this is about our children, murder and a trustworthy justice system.
We yearn for justice. We need justice. We are born with a sense of fairness and justice that cannot be denied.
So I cherish this process. It might not be perfect It might take to long -- and it might even come to the wrong conclusion - whatever it is. But it is still worth it. Research shows that we do best with good information - that is the ideal. But it also shows that we do better with misinformation than no information.
We have needed this information - and we have grown and healed through it all.
So I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the entire profession - from the investigative police officers, to the witnesses, to the Defence, to the Crown and to the Judge who now has to come to her decision.
Your hard work is worth it! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
As for me -- I must now carry on with the rest of my life.... my family and friends .... and of course my coaching, writing and painting. I must let it go for the summer. Actually not a hard thing to do....
“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.” - Steve Maraboli