Convicted Calgary killer victim of ‘egregious’ cop conduct: Lawyer
Convicted killer R.H. was the victim of “egregious” police conduct by cops who withheld a crucial statement from the Crown’s star witness, a lawyer charged Tuesday. But the judge tasked with sentencing R.H. said he had no authority to either declare a mistrial, or enter a stay of proceedings following his conviction by a jury.
Instead, Justice Glen Poelman said, R.H. would have to take up his case with the Alberta Court of Appeal. Poelman declined an application by defence lawyers Andrea Urquhart and Tonii Roulston to either enter a mistrial, or stay the prosecution of their client.
The latter would have meant R.H., who was convicted in March of three counts of murder in Calgary’s New Year’s Day massacre, would have walked free. But Urquhart said despite the significant consequences of such a ruling, it was necessary to send a message to the authorities about proper police conduct. She noted Mounties in Unity, Sask. failed to disclose a statement the prosecution’s main witness, M.M., made after his arrest on July 12, 2011.
In it, M.M., who’s identity is protected by court order, claimed he was the lone gunman in the Jan. 1, 2009 massacre at the Bolsa restaurant in south Calgary. M.M. testified at Honorio’s trial that the accused and Nathan Zuccherato entered the eatery off Macleod Tr. S. and opened fire on gangster Sanjeev Mann and his associate Aaron Bendle.
He also said a third gunman waiting outside, Michael Roberto, shot and killed innocent bystander Keni Su’a as he fled the carnage. Jurors found R.H. guilty of two counts of first-degree murders in the planned assassinations of Mann and Bendle, and second-degree murder in Su’a’s killing.
Mounties didn’t reveal M.M.’s statement in which he “exonerated” R.H., until after he was tried and convicted. “This type of conduct ... it can’t go unpunished, for lack of a better word,” Urquhart said, in asking for a rare judicial stay. After he ruled he was unable to make such a finding, Poelman sentenced R.H. to an automatic life sentence.
He is ineligible for parole for 25 years because of the first-degree murder convictions. Both Zuccherato and Roberto, who were found guilty at an earlier trial, have appealed their convictions.
Kevin Martin, Calgary Sun
October 30, 2012