Guy Paul Morin
In 1984 Guy Paul Morin was wrongfully accused and convicted of murder when Christine Jessop, a nine-year-old girl, disappeared from her Queensville, Ontario home. Her body was found two months later. Morin was suspected due to what was reported to be his strange behaviour. He was the Jessops’ next-door neighbour. Christine’s body was not found until December 31, 1984 in farm land over fifty kilometers from her home . Christine had been stabbed to death and raped. On February 19 police began investigating Morin as they suspected he was responsible for her murder.
They suspected Morin despite the fact that police investigator’s had obtained his time card from work, which suggested that it would have been difficult and near impossible for Morin to return from his job and abduct Christine before her parents’ return to their home.
Morin was arrested on April 22, 1985. The police searched the Morin home and took samples of his hair, blood, and saliva, which he voluntarily gave. Morin maintained his innocence throughout police interrogation and throughout his ten year ordeal and until his exoneration.
On January 7, 1986, the first of Morin’s two trials began. The jury heard expert forensic evidence suggesting that Morin was guilty and heard witness testimony against Morin. His defence lawyers maintained that it was impossible for Morin to have committed the murder, pointing to significant problems with the timeline. Morin lawyers also argued that the forensic evidence did not prove his guilt. On February 7, 1986, the jury reached a verdict of not guilty.
On March 4, 1986, the Attorney General of Ontario launched an appeal of Morin’s acquittal. The basis of which was the Crown’s claim that the trial judge at Morin’s first trial had made an error in directing the jury about the meaning of “reasonable doubt” and that the acquittal should therefore be thrown out and Morin retried. The Court of Appeal agreed, and on June 5, 1987, it ordered a new trial. Morin appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Canada, but that Court dismissed his appeal on November 17, 1988. His second trial began on May 28, 1990. The same evidence was presented from his first trail, as well as additional damning witness testimony against Morin. On July 30, 1992, Morin was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Soon after a yet to established organization began to aid him in his search for exoneration. This organization was called the Justice for Guy Paul Morin Committee. This committee would go on to become what is today known as the Innocence Canada. The group helped Morin to appeal his conviction and in the meantime, to apply for his release on bail while he waited for the appeal to be decided. Morin and the Committee were successful: despite his murder conviction, Morin was granted bail on February 9, 1993. In the wake of this decision, the Committee reconstituted itself as the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC), having decided to work on behalf of all wrongly convicted Canadians.
Soon before the defence was about to present arguments to the Ontario Court of Appeal, DNA test results came in proving Morin’s innocence. Technology had now advanced enough that a more sophisticated test could be conducted on DNA evidence in Christine Jessop’s case. This test proved that the DNA in question could not belong to Morin. The Crown explained to the Court, “The evidence proves as an indisputable scientific fact that Mr. Morin is not guilty of the first degree murder of Christine Jessop, and should be acquitted.”
On January 23, 1995, the Ontario Court of Appeal set aside Morin’s conviction and entered an acquittal. Ten years after his arrest, and after having spent 18 months in prison, Morin had finally been exonerated.