WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS

Topics: Murder, Winnipeg, Crime Pages: 3 (811 words) Published: November 20, 2014
WRONGFUL
CONVICTIONS

JAMES
DRISKELL

RODOLFO HOYOS
FORENSIC SCIENCE

Name: James Driskell
Year Convicted: 1991
Conviction: first degree murder
Year released: 2003

SUMMARY

James Patrick Driskell was convicted of the murder of Perry Dean Harder. Harder, age 29, was last seen outside his house in a pickup truck. His decomposed body was found three months later in a shallow grave just outside Winnipeg on Sept. 30, 1990. He had been shot three times in the chest. Driskell and Harder were jointly charged in a series of break-and-enters. Driskell said he had nothing to do with the criminal activity. But according to police Harder named him as an accomplice. Five days before the preliminary hearing into those charges, Harder disappeared. The Crown's theory was that Driskell had committed the murder in order to prevent Harder from testifying against him.

At trial the Crown presented the following evidence:

Harder was shot with a .22-calibre rifle, a type of weapon Driskell owned at one time. Two career criminals: Reath Zanidean and John Gumieny, testified about hearing Driskell plot to kill Harder. Harder's girlfriend said he had been feeling pressure from Driskell to take the full rap on the stolen-goods charge, yet he didn't want to do so. A voice record tape between Driskell and a Crown witness, Shakiv Kara, resulted in a handful of statements that could be interpreted as admissions of guilt by Driskell. (Kara later said that much of his testimony was false and accused police of intimidating him into supporting their version.) Hairs were found in a van once owned by Driskell, that police said was used in the murder. A RCMP expert testified that these hairs belonged to Harder. (SCIENTIFIC ASPECT)

Within a year of the trial, defense lawyers, a private detective, and The Winnipeg Sun began raising issues about the case:

Saskatchewan police had stopped investigating Zanidean in connection with a homicide in Saskatchewan...
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