Tuesday, July 8, 2008

That's the night that the lights went out in Georgia -- well, Ontario, actually

So, the Steven Truscott saga finally comes to a conclusion with an offer of compensation by the Province of Ontario of $6.5 million for the travesty of justice visited upon this now 63-year-old man in 1959. After a two-day bad/good cop routine, without lawyers and parents present, followed by a quick two week trial, the then 14-year-old was convicted and sentenced to death for the rape/murder of 12-year-old Lynne Harper.

He waited four months on death row before his sentence was commuted to life and then spent 10 years in the pen. He waited another 38 years before he finally heard an appeal court declare him to have been wrongfully convicted.

His main ally in clearing his name is his wife, who worked tirelessly to correct a gross miscarriage of justice for 40 years, even before she had met him. Time and again we have seen a mother (like David Milgaard's) or a wife (like Maher Arar's) fight for justice for their loved one. In getting justice, your family can truly make a difference.

And that brings us to the sad Harper family.

They are probably the only people in Canada who steadfastly maintain that Truscott was rightfully convicted.

One can understand that, if they were now to let go of this, in the face of the mountain of evidence pointing to Truscott's innocence, they would have to come to grips with the fact that their daughter's killer got away. They would have to face the awful truth that they simply relied on the competence of the authorities, who proved to be less capable than they should have been, especially at the police investigation stage.

If only the Harpers had been as dedicated in questioning (as Truscott's supporters have been) the poor police work, the suspect work of the coroner, the honesty of the witness who lied, the reliability of the witnesses who were ignored (and to this day stand by their evidence), the police failing to question two known adult pedofiles in the community, the report of the strange car near the site of the murder (which was also ignored by the investigators) and had come to the conclusion much earlier that Truscott might not be the guy, as so many other people did (right from the time he was charged with the crime), then they might have pressured the police to do a better investigation.

And what might also be preying on their minds is the thought that there might be other Lynne Harpers who fell victim to her predator while Steven's young life slowly dripped away from him in prison.

No, much better to hold to the idea that Truscott did it.

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