Friday, February 13, 2009




The Toronto Star, which played an important role in exposing Dr. Charles Smith, runs the story of Tammy Marquardt, who it describes as "the final hostage" in today's paper;

Not surprisingly, Ms Marquardt is being assisted by the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted which has already helped obtain freedom and vindication for several of Dr. Smith's victims and has played a major role in the Goudge Inquiry into Ontario's pediatric forensic pathology system;

The story, by reporter Tracy Tyler, appears under the heading: "Disgraced MD's final "hostage" waits for justice" and the sub-heading: "Tammy Marquardt, the last jailed victim of Dr. Charles Smith, lost her children and 15 years of her life. Now a push is on to reopen her case;"

A photo of Dr. Smith testifying at the Goudge Inquiry - looking like he has been caught in the headlights -contains the cutline: "Dr. Charles Smith, seen at the Goudge Inquiry, said Tammy Marquardt asphyxiated her son Six forensic experts have since repudiated his findings";

"There was no time to hold her son and barely time to hear his cries. Moments after she gave birth, Tammy Marquardt's youngest child, Eric, was swept from the delivery room and made a Crown ward, as her son Keith had been two years before," the story begins;

"Today, two boys, now 12 and 14, live somewhere in Canada in an adoptive family, not knowing the truth about their mother," it continues;

"What has helped keep Marquardt going during "an exhausting fight" for exoneration is her determination to see them and tell her story.

"If I was to sum up my experiences over the past 15 years in one word, that word would be `hostage,'" the petite 36-year-old said in the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, where she is well into the second decade of a life sentence for murder, a situation she hopes will soon change.

This week, the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted filed papers in the Supreme Court of Canada asking to have her case reopened.

Marquardt, who grew up in Scarborough, was convicted in October 1995 of killing her first child, Kenneth Wynne, 2 1/2, on the basis of testimony from disgraced pathologist Dr. Charles Smith, who said tiny red marks on the boy's lungs and chest were proof of asphyxiation.

His findings have since been repudiated by six forensic experts, including Dr. Simon Avis, Newfoundland's chief medical examiner, who say Smith wrongly concluded the child's death was a homicide.

In fact, the red marks in question can appear for a number of reasons and are considered meaningless without further evidence, something forensic textbooks pointed out as far back as 1974.

Kenneth, who had epilepsy, may have died during a seizure or of other natural causes, said Avis.

Of the dozens of parents whose lives were ruined by Smith's mistakes, Marquardt is the only one still behind bars.

In documents filed with the Supreme Court, James Lockyer, an association lawyer, is asking the court to order the Ontario Court of Appeal to reconsider Marquardt's case in light of the new evidence, which wasn't available when her appeal was dismissed in 1998.

It includes assessments by five international experts, who looked at Kenneth's case as part of a review by Ontario's chief coroner's office, and a lengthy report by Dr. Pekka Saukko, a professor of forensic medicine from Finland, prepared for the Goudge inquiry into the pediatric forensic pathology system.

When Marquardt entered the former Prison for Women in Kingston she was 23 and pregnant with Eric. A guard, well-versed in the inmate code, which reserves its harshest measures for convicted child killers, offered some advice.

"She said if I wanted that child inside of me to live, I had better lie and say I killed my husband," Marquardt recalls. But before long, Marquardt's case was mentioned on a television news program and conditions grew openly hostile.

She was placed in protective custody as stories circulated that she "nuked her kid" or placed him in a roasting pan and ate him for Thanksgiving dinner.

With the Goudge inquiry, things changed – sort of, said Marquardt, who followed the newspaper coverage and asked the prison librarian to download Justice Stephen Goudge's entire report. Tensions have subsided, with other inmates now sympathetic.

On the other hand, she's still in prison.

"I sit here and go, `Okay. They finally have evidence to prove I haven't done it. Why am I sitting in here? Mistakes were made. Go correct them. Let's get on with it. This is my life.'"

Even before the terrible events of Oct. 9, 1993, when Kenneth was found tangled in his bedsheets, it was a life full of struggle.

Marquardt was raised by a single mother, first in a basement apartment, then at a Metro Toronto housing complex on Lawrence Ave. E. At 17, she left home to escape sexual advances from her mother's boyfriend. She lived in shelters and at friends' homes while struggling to make it through Grade 11.

At 18, she became pregnant with Kenneth. Two years later, living at a home for single mothers, she met up with Rick Marquardt, a former boyfriend. When they married in 1993, he was expecting a child with a former girlfriend, which would become an important component of the prosecution's trial theory.

When Kenneth died, Rick Marquardt was at a hospital with his former girlfriend, who was giving birth. Earlier that afternoon, Marquardt had laid Kenneth down on his bed for a nap, then fell asleep herself on a couch.

She woke up, went to the bathroom then heard Kenneth calling from the bedroom. She said she found him rolled up in bedding and when she got him untangled, he was white and limp "like a rag doll."

He died three days later after being removed from life support.

Two weeks after Kenneth's death, Marquardt was so devastated she asked to go the cemetery so she could take his place in his grave.

The Crown would later paint it as a sign of guilt. The prosecution's theory was that Marquardt had been angry with her husband and took it out on her son.

Marquardt rejected a prosecution offer of five years in prison in exchange for a plea to manslaughter. "I said I haven't done anything. Forget it."

At her trial, her older sister testified for the Crown, offering support for the prosecution theory by alleging Rick Marquardt had an extramarital affair.

As with so many other cases involving Smith, then regarded as Ontario's top pediatric forensic pathologist, the defence couldn't find an expert to challenge him.

While on bail awaiting trial, Marquardt gave birth to Keith, Rick Marquardt's son, who was immediately seized by Children's Aid. She was permitted weekly visits. After she was convicted, she was told she could have "one final visit," but Keith was never brought to see her.

Rick Marquardt disappeared from her life in 1995 and Eric was conceived with another man. After he was born, Marquardt had periodic visits until he was adopted.

Her request that her boys be adopted by the same family was honoured.

Marquardt was allowed to write them a letter, which they can read when they're 18, said Michael Cvijetic, her former high school law teacher, who has stuck by her and poignantly recalls the borrowed red dress she wore at her high school graduation.

Cvijetic never doubted Marquardt's innocence and has a theory about why she was convicted. "You know what I think it boils down to? She was poor and nobody gave a s---."

Marquardt intends to chart a new course after prison. She wants to become an architectural draftsperson and plans to apply to the University of Toronto.

First though, she wants to get Kenneth a gravestone. She's been pricing them through the cemetery. They want $500 down, while the remaining $500 can be paid in instalments.

There's only a number to mark where he is buried.

"That's not right. He can't remain a number," said Marquardt. "He was a human being. He needs to have his little mark in the world.""