Truscott's Quest for Vindication Continues

Once a 14-year-old boy on death row, Steven Truscott was for the longest time Canada's poster case for the abolition of capital punishment. His 1959 conviction for the rape and strangulation of grade-school friend Lynne Harper, 12, shocked and divided Canadians for decades.

Truscott's Quest for Vindication Continues

Once a 14-year-old boy on death row, Steven Truscott was for the longest time Canada's poster case for the abolition of capital punishment. His 1959 conviction for the rape and strangulation of grade-school friend Lynne Harper, 12, shocked and divided Canadians for decades. And all these years he's been proclaiming his innocence, through three court appeals and LSD truth experiments at Kingston penitentiary. Now Truscott, who was released on parole in 1969, his capital punishment having been commuted, is a poster boy again - for justice's slow grind. And still there is more time on the clock.

Saying a miscarriage of justice "likely occurred," federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler referred the Truscott file back to the Ontario Court of Appeal for an "open-ended" review that would also evaluate new evidence and previously suppressed police files. That process will likely take another two to three years. For Truscott's family, who had gathered at his Guelph, Ont., home with cake and champagne in the hope that Cotler would order a new trial, the justice minister's decision was a bitter disappointment. But the man who waited for the hangman's knock at a very young age likely measures time in different ways than most, and he sounded a patient note. "They sentenced me to death once," he told a reporter, "so anything else is a plus."

See also R V TRUSCOTT.

Maclean's November 8, 2004