Association gives renewed hope to man fighting to clear his name
by Doug Milroy, from The Sault Star, May 21, 2011.
John Moore, who bills himself as "an innocent aboriginal man fighting for justice and freedom in Canada since 1978," may possibly have found a formidable ally.
The Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC) has decided to review his case.
Moore was convicted of second-degree murder in the slaying of cab driver Donald Lanthier in 1978, even though he was not at the scene. Crown Attorney Norman Douglas convinced a jury that, because Moore had associated with Gordon Stevens and Terry Hogan, the actual killers, earlier in the day, he knew or ought to have known a robbery with possible dire results was going to take place.
Knew or ought to have known, strange as it may seem now, was a law that was in the Criminal Code of Canada at the time.
It was found faulty and removed from the Criminal Code after the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the 1987 appeal of Yvan Vaillancourt, who was actually at the scene when his accomplice shot and killed a man during a robbery at a pool hall.
Ironically the Supreme Court, for reasons that remain
known only to its members, dismissed Moore's similar appeal three years earlier.
AIDWYC became involved in Moore's case after a friend of his, Ritchy Dube, emailed it on March 14 asking if there was "any reason why your organization is not behind the John Moore case, the aboriginal man from Sudbury convicted of murder under an old law. Surely his case merits advocacy and support. He is garnering lots of support, so it is puzzling why you are not involved. Any words?"
AIDWYC replied to Dube the same day it received his email. Win Wahrer, director of client services, told Dube that Moore had contacted the association several years ago, but attempts to get in touch with him were unsuccessful.
As it cannot look at a case until an individual requests it do so, it sent along an application form for Moore to fill out.
Having now received the formal request, Wahrer has asked Moore for "all documents relevant to your case but not limited to the following:
"Preliminary transcripts, trial transcripts, appeal factums (both Crown and defence), expert opinions/reports, investigative reports/notes, witness statements (including any statements you made to police), documentation of fresh evidence.
"Once your case file has been received, we will begin the process of assigning your case to a volunteer case reviewer, whose job it will be to review your case on behalf of AIDWYC."
AIDWYC's involvement has given renewed hope to a man who has been fighting, to no avail to this point, to clear his name since he was released from prison in 1987.
The amount of paper he has distributed in fighting the justice system has to be approaching a ton. In one photograph in a Sudbury newspaper he is shown dropping three large boxes of files on former MP Diane Marleau's desk. I have, or did have until some recent weeding, a stack of material about 40 centimetres high.
When laws are overturned, those convicted under the law as it stood receive no benefit. They have to live with whatever sentence they received.
I don't think this is fair. I believe anyone convicted under such a law should at least have his or her case reviewed. If the decision would have come out the same as in Vaillancourt, then the record should be cleared.
Moore will have to report to a parole officer for the rest of his life because he was convicted of a crime for which he wouldn't even be charged today.
That isn't right.
MOORE FACES another ongoing battle, one to this point he has been winning.
Tim Lanthier, the brother of Donald Lanthier, has been attempting to sway the parole board into preventing Moore from even visiting Sault Ste. Marie to see his mother.
Moore had provided me with typewritten letters he said had been copied from correspondence he had had with Lanthier in 1984. In one, Lanthier is purported to have said he forgave Moore, who replied that he couldn't accept his forgiveness as he had done nothing to be forgiven for.
Moore also said Lanthier visited him in prison and in one of the letters Lanthier is purported to have said he enjoyed the visit and would be coming back.
I phoned Lanthier to see why he had since changed his mind about Moore.
To my surprise, he denied ever writing to Moore or visiting him in prison.
"You didn't write him letters when he was in jail?" I asked again.
"No," he said. "The thing is, he was involved in murder of my brother. He denies he was involved. Has never taken ownership for the part he played, so as far as I am concerned he is guilty as sin.
"I don't want him anywhere near me. I am very active in my community and I don't want to be running into him.
"I don't want him in town and will do anything I can to keep him out of town."
To that end Lanthier earlier this year submitted a victim impact statement to the parole office in Sudbury, telling it about the effect his brother's slaying had had on the Lanthier family.
In a report in October 2009, the office said Moore " demonstrate overall positive community functioning with no critical identified needs or concerns."
It said Moore has no special conditions attached to his full-parole release as he has been in the (Sudbury) community for many years, maintaining pro-social community functioning.
It is this record that has enabled him to continue his visits to the Sault despite any intervention from an outside party.
But I do have some further checking to do in regard to Lanthier's claim that he never wrote or visited Moore.