CBC Digital Archives

David Milgaard joins the ranks of the wrongfully convicted

He was a carefree teenaged hippie just passing through Saskatoon on Jan. 31, 1969 — the same day nursing assistant Gail Miller was raped and stabbed to death in a back alley. On the strength of sketchy forensics and unreliable witnesses, David Milgaard was convicted of the crime and sentenced to life in prison. Twenty years later, his case made national headlines as his mother Joyce confronted politicians in a bid to free her son from jail. By the time he was cleared in 1997, David Milgaard had become one of the most famous examples of wrongful conviction in Canada.

media clip
David Milgaard has joined an exclusive club -- but it's one he, and all the other members, would rather not belong to. But unlike Donald Marshall, Guy Paul Morin, and Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, Milgaard has yet to be exonerated in the crime for which he was wrongfully convicted. The CBC's Midday finds out what these four men have in common: unfair targeting by police and the justice system, and prison time for a crime that wasn't theirs.
• Donald Marshall is a Mi'kmaq who spent 11 years in prison for murder before he was acquitted by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal in 1983. A 1989 inquiry into his conviction found that Canada's justice system had failed him "at virtually every turn." More recently, Marshall has been an advocate for native hunting and fishing rights.

• Rubin "Hurricane" Carter was a well-known U.S. boxer who was convicted of a triple murder in New Jersey. He spent close to 20 years in prison before being freed by a U.S. federal judge and now fights for the wrongly convicted. He lives in Toronto, having made Canada his home after Canadians worked to free him in 1985. He is the subject of the 1999 movie The Hurricane.

• Guy Paul Morin was arrested in 1985 for the murder of his nine-year-old neighbour, Christine Jessop. After two trials — the first ended in an acquittal — Morin was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. He was exonerated by DNA testing in 1995 and later received an apology and a $1.25-million settlement from the Ontario Attorney General. A 1997 inquiry found that prosecutors had relied heavily on jailhouse informants and weak fibre evidence.

• In an interview with the Globe and Mail shortly after the Supreme Court decision, Saskatchewan's attorney general, Bob Mitchell, said he still believed Milgaard was guilty.
• In 1993, Joyce Milgaard filed a lawsuit on David's behalf against two former Crown prosecutors, three police officers and the City of Saskatoon. The lawsuit claimed Milgaard had "sustained grievous injury, loss, damage and expense," but was dropped when the Saskatchewan government settled with Milgaard in 1999.

• Joyce Milgaard was one of the founding members of AIDWYC, the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted. One of her first efforts was to join the fight to get Guy Paul Morin out of jail. She also continued to push for DNA testing that would clear her son's name.
• AIDWYC managed to free 10 men in its first nine years and receives hundreds more requests for assistance each year.
Medium: Television
Program: Midday
Broadcast Date: Feb. 20, 1995
Guest(s): Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, Donald Marshall, David Milgaard, Guy Paul Morin
Host: Tina Srebotnjak
Duration: 24:45

Last updated: February 24, 2014

Page consulted on December 12, 2014

All Clips from this Topic

Related Content

1992: David Milgaard is a free man

More than 22 years after his wrongful conviction for murder, David Milgaard leaves prison.

The Wrongful Conviction of David Milgaard

He was a carefree teenaged hippie just passing through Saskatoon on Jan. 31, 1969 -- the same ...

Hot Type: A kinder, gentler Hurricane

Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, the former boxer who was wrongly convicted of murder, recounts his b...

Larry Fisher convicted in murder of Gail Mill...

A man is found guilty of the murder for which David Milgaard was wrongly sent to jail.

Milgaard gets $10 million compensation packag...

David Milgaard, his family and lawyers will share compensation from Ottawa and Saskatchewan.

DNA test clears Milgaard

Sophisticated independent testing in the United Kingdom proves David Milgaard didn't kill Gail...