Brenda Way's cousin says her tip to police that Glen Assoun was not the killer was ignored
Karen Way says there's likely been a miscarriage of justice in Brenda Way's death
The cousin of a Dartmouth, N.S., woman stabbed to death nearly 19 years ago says she has little doubt there's been a miscarriage of justice in the case and that the wrong man was convicted.
Glen Assoun was found guilty in 1999 of second-degree murder in the death of his ex-girlfriend, Brenda Way, and was handed a life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 18½ years.
Assoun has always maintained his innocence, but his case is receiving fresh scrutiny as a federal Justice Department lawyer suggests in court documents there may have been a miscarriage of justice.
"I'm shocked that it's finally got to that point," Karen Way, Brenda Way's cousin, tells CBC News. "I'm not shocked that somebody has finally come to the conclusion that Glen may not be responsible for Brenda's death."
Karen Way says that she too initially suspected Assoun of the killing. But then she overheard two other men discussing the stabbing at a bar just weeks after her cousin's death.
"What I overheard was, 'You should have seen the look on her face when I slit her effing throat,'" Karen Way says.
She says she called police, but officers ignored her tip as the investigation instead zeroed-in on Assoun. And nearly two decades on, Karen Way is convinced he's not the killer.
She says she's pleased the case is being probed again by justice officials and is urging police to reopen the investigation.
"I'm so full of emotion right now. I'm happy for Glen because I'm happy for his family," Karen Way says. "I'm happy for Brenda, mostly because I believe that Brenda's amongst us.
"Brenda loved Glen. When you love someone, you don't want to see them in pain, you don't want to see them hurt, and that's exactly what his life must have been for all these years sitting in prison."
Way, who was a prostitute, was found dead behind an apartment building in Dartmouth in November 1995. She had been stabbed several times and her throat was slashed.
Assoun has persevered in his attempts to have his murder conviction overturned. His latest bid was to ask the Justice Department's Criminal Conviction Review Group to reassess his case under Section 696.1 of the Criminal Code, alleging a miscarriage of justice.
A preliminary review was completed in August. The author of that review, Justice lawyer Mark Green, wrote that his preliminary findings found "there may be a reasonable basis to conclude that a miscarriage of justice likely occurred."
Assoun's case now moves to the investigative phase of the review process. The Justice Department is trying to have Green's preliminary report sealed.
The government's publication ban application will be heard later this month.
In the meantime, Assoun is applying for an interim release from prison. The Criminal Conviction Review Group is taking no position on his request.
As the case returns to court, Karen Way's thoughts turn to her cousin.
"She was so full of love," she says. "She could recognize you from a mile away and as soon as she seen you she would run to you. She'd run to you and hug you. She had a heart of gold and she was very smart."