Wrongfully convicted man's trial delayed 2 weeks
October 13, 2009
A man wrongfully convicted of murder will have to wait even longer for his civil trial to start after the case was adjourned for two weeks on Tuesday morning.
Erin Michael Walsh's five-week trial was supposed to begin on Tuesday morning in Saint John, but a lawyer representing Walsh had a death in the family. The trial has been rescheduled to start on Oct. 26.
Walsh is suing for compensation after being wrongfully convicted of murder in 1975.
Walsh's 1975 conviction was overturned by the New Brunswick Court of Appeal in 2008. He is suing the province, the Saint John city police and William McCarroll, a sitting judge who was the Crown prosecutor at the time, for compensation.
If Justice Fails
The Fifth Estate / CBC
UPDATE: On March 14th, 2008, after 33 years of proclaiming his innocence, Erin Walsh was vindicated. The New Brunswick Court of Appeal reviewed his case and overturned his conviction of second degree murder. This comes less than a month after the Province of New Brunswick and the Attorney General of Canada both said that Erin Walsh had likely been the victim of a miscarriage of justice.
The story of If Justice Fails begins on a hot, summer afternoon in 1975, in Saint John, New Brunswick.
Guilty in Shooting of Chi Chi Peters
A carload of petty criminals, a drunken tussle, a blast from a loaded shotgun. One man, Melvin 'Chi Chi' Peters, dies. Another, Erin Walsh, is charged with killing him. In court, the shooting of Chi Chi Peters is presented by the prosecutors as an open and shut case against Walsh. After a four-day trial, the jury takes just one hour to return a guilty verdict. Erin Walsh, convicted of second-degree murder, receives a life sentence with no parole before ten years. His claims of innocence are ignored.
In the three decades since Chi Chi Peters's death, questions remain about whether or not the right man did the time: questions about crucial documentation that never made it to the trial; about key witnesses who were never called to testify.
A Death Sentence
Now, thirty-two years after his conviction, Erin Walsh is still fighting to clear his name. But, with vindication possible, that fight has taken on a new urgency. Erin Walsh has terminal cancer. "I was diagnosed", he tells the fifth estate, "as having six to eight months to live. So, if you do the math, I'm already—you're sitting here talking to a dead man."
What Walsh discovered recently were documents, material previously undisclosed to his lawyers at the time of the trial, and evidence never presented in court. It is that evidence, Walsh believes, that could have cleared him of the murder charge in 1975.