A man charged with murder in the death of a Calgary man last Friday has been identified as the son of a wrongfully convicted man from a high-profile Winnipeg killing nearly four decades ago.
Christopher Thomas Dejarlais, 41, of Calgary, was arrested Sunday and charged with second-degree murder in the death of Randeep Singh Dhaliwal, 39, who was found dead in a Pineridge home.
Global News has learned Dejarlais is the son of Thomas Sophonow, a man wrongly accused of murder nearly 36 years ago.
“Chris went through a lot growing up,” Dejarlais’ uncle Edward said. “With Thomas in jail…Chris didn’t have a father figure and he knew his dad was in jail.
“When Thomas got arrested, everybody felt the pain. We knew; my mom passed away knowing Tom was innocent and when my mom passed away, also, it was hard for everybody.”
Barbara Stoppel, 16, was killed in a doughnut shop in Winnipeg, where she was found strangled and unconscious on the floor.
Thomas Sophonow was found guilty of killing the waitress in 1981, based largely on the testimony of a witness who contradicted in court what she had told police. The defence was not told about the contradiction at the time, and Sophonow spent almost four years in prison before he was freed in 1985.
Sophonow later received $2.6 million in compensation for the 45 months he spent incarcerated.
With files from The Canadian Press