A group of criminology students at the University of Ottawa wants to help John Moore, a man who says he was wrongfully convicted in a 35-year-old Sault Ste. Marie murder case.

In 1978, Moore was convicted of second degree murder in the death of cab driver in Sault Ste. Marie — even though he was nowhere near the crime when it happened. 

That's because the law that was used to convict Moore held that he ought to have known a crime was going to be committed.  The law was repealed as unconstitutional a few years later. 

But it was too late for Moore, who was in prison serving a life sentence.

Myles Frederick McLellan, a lawyer at Algoma University who is helping in the case, said Moore may be out of prison, but he's still serving a sentence, and is still subject to conditions that restrict his freedom as part of his parole.

Myles Frederick McLellan

Myles Frederick McLellan, a law professor at Algoma University who is part of the group trying to help John Moore get a pardon, says Moore is still subject to parole conditions that restrict his movements. (Supplied)

“If, in fact, you are released on parole, you still are on parole for the rest of your life, so that's what he's facing,” McLellan said.

But Moore said he doesn't think the group will be able to get a pardon.

“No lifer will ever get a pardon,” he said.

“So I can forget about the pardon. But if something else comes ... what I'm looking for is exoneration — total exoneration — because I'm innocent and didn't kill no one.”

john moore

John Moore's case is getting some attention from a group of criminology students at the University of Ottawa. Moore was convicted of second degree murder in the 1978 death of a cab driver in Sault Ste. Marie, but he was nowhere near the crime scene. (Kate Rutherford/CBC)

Moore said he had been in a car with two men who eventually killed the cab driver later that same day. But he was nowhere near the scene of the crime when the murder happened.

But, because he was in a car with the murderers earlier in the day, that now-defunct law stated that he ought to have known a crime was going to be committed.

Moore also said the judge in his 1982 appeal made documented mistakes. For example, there weren't any aboriginal jurors hearing his case. And he said witnesses changed their stories.

Moore, who now lives in Sudbury, said those things should get the federal Justice Minister Peter McKay to clear his name. 

“And that's all I can do is hope for that little chance, it's all I have is hope, hope that something may get done.”

He is currently preparing a brief to give to McKay asking for clemency — something he's asked every federal justice minister since Kim Campbell.