CBC In Depth
Joyce Milgaard and her son David are shown outside Supreme Court in Ottawa Jan.22, 1999. (CP Photo/Fred Chartrand)
INDEPTH: DAVID MILGAARD
David Milgaard: Timeline
CBC News Online | Updated September 26, 2008

In 1970, 16-year-old David Milgaard was sentenced to life imprisonment for the 1969 murder of 20-year-old Saskatoon nursing aide Gail Miller. After 23 years in prison, the Supreme Court of Canada set aside his conviction. Five years later he was cleared by DNA evidence and awarded $10 million. In the same year, Larry Fisher was found guilty of the rape and stabbing death of Gail Miller.

Jan. 31, 1969
Body of nursing aide Gail Miller, 20, found in a Saskatoon snowbank. Milgaard is travelling through Saskatoon the morning the body is found.

May 30, 1969
Milgaard, 16, is arrested and charged with murder.

Jan. 31, 1970
Saskatchewan Court convicts Milgaard of murdering Miller; He is sentenced to life in prison.

Jan. 31, 1971
Saskatchewan Court of Appeal rejects Milgaard's appeal.

Nov. 15, 1971
Supreme Court of Canada refuses to hear Milgaard's appeal.

Dec. 28, 1988
Milgaard's lawyers apply to have the case reopened.

May 14, 1990
Federal Justice Minister Kim Campbell brushes past Milgaard's mother Joyce, who tries to hand her a report from a Vancouver forensic pathologist that could clear Milgaard. Campbell says it could jeopardize any future review if she sees the report.

Feb. 27, 1991
Campbell turns down Milgaard's request to review his case.

Aug. 14, 1991
Milgaard's lawyers file second application to Minister of Justice to have the case reopened.

Nov. 29, 1991
Campbell directs the Supreme Court to review Milgaard's conviction.

April 14, 1992
Top court says Milgaard should have new trial. He is freed after Saskatchewan decides not to prosecute him again. He is not formally acquitted.

July 18, 1997
Milgaard's team announces that more sophisticated DNA tests in Britain prove Milgaard did not commit Miller's murder. That same day, Milgaard receives apology from the Saskatchewan government for his wrongful conviction.

July 25, 1997
Larry Fisher arrested in Calgary for the rape and murder of Gail Miller.

May 17, 1999
Milgaard and his family receive $10 million compensation package from federal government.

Oct. 12, 1999
Fisher's trial opens in Yorkton, Sask. His lawyer successfully argued to have the trial moved from Saskatoon to avoid potential juror bias. Nov. 22, 1999
Larry Fisher convicted of rape and murder of Gail Miller. Jan. 4, 2000
Fisher sentenced to life in prison; parole eligibility to be decided by National Parole Board. April 15, 2003
Saskatchewan Court of Appeal hears Fisher's case for a new trial. Sept. 29, 2003
Saskatchewan Court of Appeal dismisses Fisher's appeal of his first-degree murder conviction. Sept. 30, 2003
The Saskatchewan government announces inquiry into how Milgaard was wrongly convicted for the murder of Gail Miller. Aug. 26, 2004
The Supreme Court of Canada refuses to hear Fisher's appeal. The decision clears the way for the inquiry to proceed sometime in 2005. Jan. 17, 2005
The public inquiry into the wrongful conviction of David Milgaard opens in Saskatoon. Mr. Justice Edward MacCallum is expected to hear from more than 100 witnesses – including David Milgaard and Larry Fisher – over the course of a year . A list of high profile potential witnesses includes former prime ministers Brian Mulroney and Kim Campbell and former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow. April 20, 2005:
The first phase of the Milgaard inquiry ends. During 41 days of testimony the inquiry hears from nearly 50 witnesses, all of whom were involved in the 1969 investigation of Gail Miller's murder. The commission also heard from a number of women who were sexually assaulted by Larry Fisher in the months before and after Miller's murder. Nov. 21, 2005:
David Milgaard agrees to testify at his wrongful conviction inquiry if the judge finds he is medically fit. Commission counsel appeared before Justice Edward MacCallum to inform him of talks with Milgaard's lawyer, Hersh Wolch. Wolch initially wanted Milgaard excused from testifying for medical reasons. They decide Milgaard's testimony will be necessary to some parts of the inquiry. Jan. 16, 2006
David Milgaard's lawyer, Hersh Wolch, asks the court if his client can testify in writing. Milgaard said last year the thought of testifying made him physically ill and he wouldn't do it, which infuriated inquiry judge Edward McCallum. Jan. 27, 2006
A private investigator says there's circumstantial evidence that Milgaard was the victim of a police coverup. Paul Henderson, who investigates wrongful convictions for a U.S.-based organization, says he got a retraction from a key Crown witness. Henderson said the witness admitted that police threatened to charge him with the murder if he didn't implicate Milgaard. Feb. 7, 2006
The original defence lawyer at Milgaard's trial, Calvin Tallis, tells the Saskatoon-based inquiry that his client would not have been a good witness because he had a drug history and had been in trouble with the law. Feb. 8, 2006
The judge rules that Milgaard must testify but may do so on videotape and all lawyers have agreed. The judge's decision was made to reduce the stress of the event for Milgaard. Feb. 11, 2006
Milgaard's defence lawyer criticizes a judge's decision regarding the questioning of a star witness for the prosecution at his client's murder trial. Nichol John's testimony was a crucial element at Milgaard's original trial. Feb. 20, 2006
David Asper, the lawyer who represented Milgaard for years while Milgaard fought to be released from prison, says he wants funding and official standing at the Saskatoon inquiry into Milgaard's wrongful conviction. Asper is scheduled to testify at the inquiry. Standing would allow him to participate in the proceedings and cross-examine witnesses.

Feb. 22, 2006
David Asper, who helped Milgaard get out of prison will have limited standing at the inquiry and be allowed to have his own lawyer present. This means his lawyer can cross-examine witnesses during a portion of the inquiry - but he won't receive public money to cover his costs.

March 2, 2006
Media baron David Asper is granted funding for some of the legal expenses he incurred while appearing at the inquiry looking into Milgaard's wrongful conviction. The public hearing is adjourned until April 17. April 24, 2006
Milgaard's videotaped testimony is played at the inquiry into his wrongful conviction. The tape shows Milgaard trying to recall the events that led to his conviction. He says his memory is cloudy, though, from years spent in prison. He says he began to doubt his own innocence after being misdiagnosed with so many different psychological problems while in prison. May 2, 2006
Joyce Milgaard abruptly leaves the inquiry after her son's lawyer, Hersh Wolch, is denied the right to be the final questioner of Paul Henderson. The various lawyers involved in the inquiry argued about who should be allowed to question Henderson last. Justice Edward MacCallum eventually ruled against David Milgaard's lawyer and gave the right to a lawyer for the Saskatoon Police Service. Joyce Milgaard complains to reporters outside the courtroom, saying the ruling was unfair to her son. May 3, 2006
Joyce Milgaard's lawyer apologizes to the judge for her client's comments to the press about the unfairness of the inquiry. Justice MacCullum says, "She has been warned before that if she wishes to be a part of the inquiry as a party with standing, she is not to subvert it by going out in the hall and casting broadsides against the work of the commission. That is her right to do so as a private citizen, and if she wishes to persist in that, she will do so as a private citizen, and not as a party with standing."

The Milgaard inquiry is set to reconvene on May 8, 2006, when Joyce Milgaard is scheduled to take the stand. May 8, 2006
Joyce Milgaard tells the inquiry she began her fight to free her son with the assumption that the police "twisted the facts into what they were not to put him behind bars." She says she regrets not starting sooner to prove David Milgaard's innocence. Aug. 28, 2006
The Milgaard inquiry resumes public sessions, and expects to hear from key government and RCMP witnesses before wrapping up in September 2006. The commission of the inquiry is to find out why David Milgaard was wrongfully convicted of a 1969 rape and murder, and spent 23 years in prison before being exonerated. Dec. 11, 2006
Final oral submissions are to be heard in the inquiry in Saskatoon into the wrongful conviction of David Milgaard.

Sept. 26, 2008
The inquiry report is released. It found that police received a tip in 1980 that could have lead to the real killer, 12 years before Milgaard was released from prison. "The criminal justice system failed David Milgaard," concludes Justice Edward MacCallum, the Alberta judge who headed the inquiry.


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