Calgary

Couple getting trial by media after Calgary police news release: lawyers

Two Calgary defence lawyers say police have forced a trial by media on their clients by issuing a news release — which was covered by local and national media including CBC News — hours after the couple had agreed to turn themselves in.

Lawyers say couple had agreed to talk, hours before news release came out

Carolina Perdomo and Allan Perdomo Lopez are on trial by media according to their lawyers. (City of Calgary screenshot)

Two Calgary defence lawyers say police have forced a trial by media on their clients by issuing a news release — which was covered by local and national media including CBC News — hours after the couple had agreed to turn themselves in.

Police visited the Calgary home of Carolina Perdomo and Allan Perdomo Lopez on Wednesday, but the couple was working in Victoria at the time.

They are considered persons of interest in the death of five-year-old Emilio Perdomo, who died last year of blunt-force trauma.

The boy was taken to hospital July 10, 2015 with injuries family members said were from numerous accidents. He died one week later.

Police said in a news release Thursday new medical evidence helped investigators confirm the boy's death was a homicide and they wanted to talk with the couple, who police said are related to the boy. The release said "police need to locate them," and included pictures. Police held a news conference the same day.

The lawyers for the couple, however, said the release was not required because the couple, through their lawyers, had already agreed to return to Calgary from Victoria as soon as they could.

Brendan Miller, Carolina's lawyer, said the timing of the release doesn't make sense.

APB issued to media

"At that time [Thursday] we immediately … contacted the police, advised them where the Perdomos were and that we would make arrangements to do an arrest by appointment and as soon as they were able to, the Perdomos voluntarily booked a flight from Victoria to come back to Calgary," Miller said.

"Even though that was all done and the police were aware this was happening, they issued essentially an all-points bulletin to the media saying they were looking for these people, saying they didn't know where they were," the lawyer said.

The police news release was covered by local and national media.

Miller said the couple turned themselves in to police Friday at 11 a.m., they were questioned while in custody and released eight hours later without being charged.

Darren Mahoney, Allan's lawyer, said the couple has been helpful in the investigation all along.

"My concern is that, [police] put out these pictures … when they haven't been charged yet … when they are cooperating, they are not running, the police know they have assets in the city, they know their teenage children are still here in the city," Mahoney said.

"These people have not been convicted of any sort of crime."

'Swarmed' on C-Train

Miller said after being questioned, the couple was recognized on the C-Train going home.

"They were essentially swarmed by a bunch of people on the train, trying to contact the conductor on the C-Train to report them," Miller said.

"It's a bit frustrating, because first of all in this country at least, people are innocent until proven guilty and it seems to us, at least at this juncture, that they're doing a trial by media."

Calgary police Det. Travis Ibach told CBC News Sunday the couple is not cleared yet.

"Police can confirm that the Perdomos attended a police facility on their own accord, and were interviewed by investigators and released," Ibach said.

"They have not been cleared from the investigation and are still persons of interest."

With files from CBC's Meghan Grant, Drew Anderson

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