From the Winnipegsun.com:
Lawyers for a man found guilty in one of Winnipeg’s most notorious child murders claim to have uncovered compelling new evidence showing bad science and juror bias led to his wrongful conviction.
Mark Edward Grant’s legal team is now seeking the Manitoba’s Court of Appeal permission to introduce “fresh evidence” in his case that they contend is credible and points to Grant’s innocence in the 1984 killing of schoolgirl Candace Derksen.
Grant, 48, was convicted of second-degree murder in February 2011 and later sentenced to life in prison after an at-times complex jury trial in which the intricacies of DNA science loomed large.
Derksen, 13, disappeared after leaving school on Nov. 30, 1984.
She was found weeks later bound with twine and frozen to death in a rarely-used supply shed not far from her home.
Grant wasn’t arrested for her murder until May 2007, about a year after Winnipeg police sent the twine used to bind the girl and some hairs found at the crime scene to what was then Molecular World, a private lab in Thunder Bay.
The lab extracted DNA from the samples that implicated Grant.
The evidence ultimately became the cornerstone of the Crown’s first-degree murder case.
Although Grant’s lawyers insistently challenged the DNA evidence and testimony of Molecular World’s scientists, they say “ongoing concerns” with reliability after the trial caused them to send the hearing transcripts and lab reports to a renowned U.S. genetics expert.
A review by Dr. Bruce Budowle shows there were “unexplained manipulations” by Molecular World of the DNA sample the lab extracted from the twine, defence lawyer Saul Simmonds says in court documents.
Budowle is a retired veteran FBI forensic scientist and now acts as executive director of an investigative genetics institute at a Texas university. “The evidence of Dr. Budowle demonstrates Molecular World excluded data that demonstrated (Grant) was not a contributor to the DNA on the twine,” Simmonds argues.
“The evidence goes directly to the integrity of the lab and their results,” lawyer Saul Simmonds states. “It goes directly to the issue of a wrongful conviction.”
The lawyers also contend a young woman sitting on the jury had made up her mind Grant was guilty after the first day of the five-week-long trial, and thereby breached his right to a fair hearing.
Simmonds will also argue post-conviction comments made by the unidentified juror in a recently-published book about the Derksen case show “the trial was irreparably tainted by bias.”
The woman is quoted directly in the book referring to Grant as “that person in the prisoner’s box … that has committed an unspeakable horrific crime” as she recounts the strain she felt sitting through the trial’s first day.
“The comments made by the juror … demonstrate a state of mind on the first day of the trial that is entirely at odds with a juror’s duty of impartiality,” he says.
“Her comments are a clear apprehension of bias,” says Simmonds.
The Crown has not yet responded to Grant’s claims, and a date to hear his new evidence motion has not been set.