Sudbury, Ont., woman alleges police falsely implicated her in estranged husband's death
Brant Burke, 56, was found dead near a wooded trail on Oct. 25, 2020
The estranged wife of a man murdered in 2020 is suing her brother-in-law, police officials and the Ministry of Community and Correctional Services for a combined $8 million.
Melissa Sheridan, of Sudbury, Ont. was accused of the murder of her estranged husband, Brant Burke, 56, in November 2020. The Crown dropped the charges against her in the summer of 2022.
Kerry Burke, of Killarney, Ont., pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of his brother. On Oct. 26, 2022, he received a life sentence with no eligibility of parole for 15 years.
Brant Burke was found dead on a trail in Point Grondine Reserve within Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory on Oct. 25, 2020.
This has been an absolute nightmare for Ms. Sheridan and her children.- Justin Linden, Melissa Sheridan's lawyer
In the statement of claim, Sheridan's lawyers, Michael Lacy and Justin Linden, said she was wrongfully charged and arrested for the murder of her estranged husband.
"The arrest and prosecution of Ms. Sheridan was directly caused by the misconduct and/or negligence of members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the Wikwemikong Tribal Police, who caused the creation of a fabricated statement by the actual perpetrator, Kerry Burke, falsely implicating Melissa in the murder of Brant Burke," the statement of claim said.
The allegations and lawsuit have not yet been proven or tested in court.
Sheridan, along with her children and elderly parents, are seeking $2 million in general damages, $2 million in special damages, $2 million in aggravated, punitive and exemplary damages, and $2 million in damages under the Family Law Act.
Before Nov. 25, 2020, Sheridan had no criminal record and was a respected business owner, the statement of claim said.
"As a result of the murder charges, and the resulting publicity, Melissa's company, CRCS, suffered significant losses in expected income over the ensuing period," her lawyers wrote.
They added Sheridan became an outcast in the community and her family faced derogatory comments on social media.
"As a result of the events described herein, Melissa Sheridan sustained serious and permanent injuries, losses and damages including depression, anxiety, physical and emotional trauma, loss of reputation, stigma, and a past, present, and future loss of income and a loss of competitive advantage," the statement of claim said.
The statement of claim accuses police officers with the OPP and Wikwemikong Tribal Police of incompetence and alleges they pressured Kerry Burke to falsely implicate his sister-in-law in his brother's murder.
"They fed Kerry a narrative purporting to implicate Melissa in the murder while helping him fix inconsistencies and fill gaps in his story," the statement of claim said.
A statement of defence has not yet been filed, as of Nov. 24, 2022.
"This has been an absolute nightmare for Ms. Sheridan and her children," her lawyer Justin Linden told CBC News in an email.
"We look forward to calling the evidence before the court to ensure that something like this never happens again."