Tuesday, October 26, 2010


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: In view of the $4.25 million compensation William Mullins-Johnson that was announced on October 21, 2010 by the Ontario government, I am re-running some early posts relating to the case. The following post - published on October 15, 2007, ran under the heading, "Noteable uotes."


Dr. Michael Pollanen (Ontario's chief pathologist):

On new provincial guidelines that reject the notion accepted by some pathologists that pathologists should "think dirty." Pollanen told the Court of Appeal that the new guidelines effectively say, "Don't think dirty; Think objectively. Think truth." Pollanen testified that he would have told Sault Ste. Marie police after the autopsy that the cause of death was "pending" because tissue samples had not yet been examined and toxicology tests had not yet been performed - instead of making an immediate pronouncement as was done in the Mullins-Johnson case. Pollanen cautioned that until all the results are in, "you cannot exclude a natural cause of death. Mullins-Johnson was arrested and charged with first-degree murder within twelve hours of the discovery of his niece Valin Johnson's body. "The cause of death must not be speculative either way," Pollanen said.

William Mullins-Johnson:

On his arrest:

"I culdn't believe my ears. I was in total shock. About 6.30 that evening, police came in the front door. They announced I was being arrested for first-degree murder. They grabbed me and took me out. They wouldn't let me put my shoes on...It felt so surreal. They (police) kept screaming at me that I did this and I did that. I kept responding, I didn't do it."

When asked by his lawyer (James Lockyer) if he thought that Valin had been molested and murdered;

"You get these police officers, these doctors saying that she had been molested, she had been strangled. They're supposed to be the protectors of society and all this stuff. So, yes, I believe she was.But I knew it wasn't me."

How did he cope in penitentiary?

"I thought I would go to the federal penitentiary and die. I tried to have a daily routine. I didn't want to associate with anyone because I didn't think anyone would want to associate with me. I expected to get my throat cut. I would call my mother at least once a week to let her know that I am still alive."

How did the murder charge affect his family?

"It split my family. It had my brother thinking that I had killed his little girl. It had me thinking that my brother had killed his little girl."

How did it feel to learn from Dr. Pollanen's report that Valin had neither been sexually assaulted or murdered?

"This was the first time that I saw the light at the end of the tunnel...I saw the end of the tunnel...As tragic a loss as she is, nobody violated her and I am happy for that."

On September 21, 2005, the day he was released on bail from the 361 University Avenue courthouse after so many years behind bars.

"It was eleven years to the day that I had been convicted," Mullins-Johnson said. "It was eleven years to the day. Full circle.

"It was the bluest sky I had ever seen."

On the ordeal he went through:

"It was worse than a scarlet letter."

Lawyer James Lockyer:

On the hasty laying of the murder charge:

"There was a rush to judgement...(before) the forensic tests were in...There was no stopping of the train when it left the station."

"William Mullins-Johnson should not have been charged...No one dreamt that he could have commited such a heinous crime."

Prosecuter Michal Fairburn:On the reasonableness of prosecution:

"It was entirely understandable and appropriate at the time for the Crown to prosecute this case based on the scientific evidence available."

On the Crown's efforts to investigate the Mullins-Johnson's claim that he was the victim of a miscarriage of justice:

"No stone was left unturned in exploring this case."

On the lack of a specific pathological cause of death:

"It is disquieting that we do not know what Valin died of. We might never know. What we know is that there is no evidence of homicide in this case."

Words of apology after the Court quashed the conviction and entered its acquittal:

"On behalf of the Ministry of the Attorney General I wish to extend our sincere, our profound and our deepest apologies to Mr. Mullins-Johnson and to his family for the miscarriage of justice that has occurred in this case and all that he has had to endure as a result. There can be no doubt this miscarriage of justice has exacted an incredible toll on Mr. Mullins-Johnson, on his mother, Mrs. Laureena Hill and his entire family. For this we are truly, we are profoundly sorry."

Her message to Valin's parents:

"Our deep sympathies to the family of Valin Johnson on the tragic loss of their beautiful daughter.

Chief Justice Dennis O'Connor for the Court:
"It is regrettable that as a result of the flawed pathological evidence you were wrongfully convicted and you spent so long in custody."