July 19, 2019 3:55 pm
Updated: July 19, 2019 6:35 pm

Roy Green: Innocent but imprisoned

Glen Assoun, the Nova Scotia man who spent almost 17 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit, his lawyer Sean MacDonald and Ron Dalton, right, from the advocacy group Innocence Canada.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
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A week ago it was Glen Assoun. After almost 17 years imprisoned for a murder he did not commit, Glen Assoun walked out of a Canadian courtroom an exonerated man.

This week it is Dennis Oland. Friday, in another Canadian courtroom, a judge found Oland not guilty of murdering his father. This was his second trial; he was convicted of second-degree murder in 2015, but that verdict was overturned on appeal.

READ MORE: ‘Missing puzzle pieces’: Why Dennis Oland was found not guilty of murder

While seeing two high-profile cases of wrongful conviction in a two-week span is highly unusual, it does serve as a reminder that Canada’s justice system is itself at least sometimes guilty of significant errors too easily made.

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Last weekend I spoke with Ronald Dalton, co-president of Innocence Canada.

Dalton knows about wrongfully hearing “guilty” pronounced with the one-way drive to prison shortly after.

In 1988, Mr. Dalton’s wife Brenda died after choking on a piece of dry cereal. Just hours later, after rushing his wife to hospital, Dalton was charged with murder. Prosecutors alleged he had smothered his wife. At trial, a forensic pathologist supported the charge and Dalton was convicted of second-degree murder.

It wasn’t until 2000, after almost nine years in prison, after a ruling by the Newfoundland Court of Appeal, and after a second trial, that Ronald Dalton was declared innocent.  His wife had indeed choked on a piece of dry cereal.

During the second trial, police investigating the death of Brenda Dalton were found to have arrested her husband prior to the conclusion of his wife’s autopsy.

READ MORE: Innocence Canada says government should offer ‘compassionate’ compensation to Glen Assoun

David Milgaard spent 23 years of his life wrongfully imprisoned for the 1969 rape and murder of Saskatoon nursing assistant Gail Miller. The details of Milgaard’s case are an exposé of what can go wrong when justice is in a rush for conviction.

Wait, There’s More: Dennis Oland found not guilty

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During my conversations with Milgaard, I asked why, after he’d spent many years in prison, he refused to enter a guilty plea in return for release. Milgaard told me he preferred additional years of incarceration over admitting to a crime for which he wasn’t guilty.

WATCH BELOW: Wrongful murder conviction report of Glen Assoun released

Innocence Canada assisted Milgaard, a small non-profit that is dedicated to being a voice for the wrongly convicted, has helped in the exoneration of 23 people since 1993.

A donation to assist this sometimes final voice for the wrongly convicted can be made through InnocenceCanada.com.

Roy Green is the host of the Roy Green Show on the Global News Radio network.

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