Botched extradition request means Texas sex offender stays in Canada, for now
Judge finds record of the case submitted by U.S. justice officials 'is not admissible or reliable'
The future of Adesanya Prince, a convicted sex offender in Texas who crossed into Canada illegally in April, is up in the air after a Quebec Superior Court judge dismissed an extradition request by the United States.
In a decision on Aug. 2, Justice Daniel Royer ruled the record of the case filed by the U.S. to support the extradition request was "not admissible or reliable."
Royer criticized the U.S. for filing documents that were incomplete and unclear.
The ruling means Prince, who slipped into Canada at the Roxham Road border crossing, where Quebec and New York meet, will remain in Canada for now.
Man sent bestiality, child porn videos to colleague
Prince was born in Nigeria but was living in Houston in May 2017 when he was arrested and charged with possession and promotion of child pornography. He was released on a bond.
Court documents show Prince sent three pornographic videos to a co-worker using his cellphone. Two of the videos contained images of bestiality, and the third one depicted an adult male repeatedly sexually assaulting a toddler.
Prince pleaded guilty to the charge last February. He was to be sentenced in May, but in April, he crossed into Canada at Roxham Road and was arrested by the RCMP.
U.S. officials were informed Prince was in Canada and launched formal extradition proceedings.
Judge finds basis for extradition request 'odd'
Lawyers for Canada's attorney general represented the U.S. in Quebec Superior Court during the extradition hearing, based on documents submitted by U.S. officials.
In his ruling, Royer identified numerous problems with the paperwork from the U.S.
Most striking was that the request was based on a desire to return Prince to the U.S. for prosecution and not for sentencing, even though Prince had already pleaded guilty.
Royer said he couldn't extradite Prince to face trial for a crime he had already been convicted of.
"There is not a word in the record of the case to the fact that Mr. Prince has pleaded guilty to the accusation," he wrote, adding the situation was "odd."
"The Requesting State has sought the provisional arrest of Mr. Prince alleging that he was wanted for imposition of a sentence. It now seeks his extradition alleging that he is wanted for prosecution. Both cannot be true," he wrote.
He said this fact alone was enough to dismiss the extradition request. But he went on to point out other problems with the U.S. submission.
Royer noted that even if he were to ignore the fact that Prince had already pleaded guilty and accept the U.S. request because it wanted to prosecute him, there was "insufficient" evidence to suggest Prince committed a crime.
He said in its request, the U.S. never established that Prince viewed the pornographic videos on his cellphone, which Prince claimed were sent to him by a friend.
"The inference that he knew that one of the three videos was child pornography and that he knowingly distributed them is too great a leap and not a reasonable inference without anything more in the record of the case," Royer wrote.
"The court cannot order extradition without evidence of knowledge which would justify committal for trial in Canada."
In a statement emailed to CBC on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the federal Department of Justice said Prince was released from custody after the Aug. 2 hearing.
"The United States subsequently submitted a new request for his provisional arrest," the statement read.
Prince was arrested Tuesday and appeared briefly in court Wednesday afternoon. He's scheduled to be back in court Friday.
His lawyer, Sabrina Lapolla, spoke briefly to CBC on Wednesday and said she didn't want to talk about the case until checking with her client.
Lapolla said she thought the most likely scenario was that the U.S. would resubmit its extradition request and that Prince would face another hearing.
The U.S. Justice Department refused to answer questions about the case.
"As a matter of longstanding policy, the U.S. Department of Justice generally does not comment on extradition-related matters until a defendant is in the United States," a spokesperson said in a statement emailed to CBC.