Ont. woman convicted on disgraced pathologist's testimony granted bail
'I would never wish this upon my worst enemy,' freed mother says
A Toronto woman released on bail Thursday pending a review of her 1995 murder conviction, which was based on evidence presented by a disgraced former child pathologist, says she has been through a "living hell."
Marquardt, who was convicted of suffocating her 2½-year-old son Kenneth, is one of several individuals in Ontario whose cases have been reopened in the wake of an expert panel of pathologists and a public inquiry discrediting the testimony of Dr. Charles Smith.
Speaking to reporters outside the courthouse, a tearful Marquardt said the court's decision was the "first step" in clearing her name after 14 years behind bars.
"Today, I finally have my day," she said. "I would never wish this upon my worst enemy."
Marquardt has steadfastly denied killing her son, who was found tangled up in his bed sheets on Oct 9, 1993. During Marquardt's trial, Smith testified that tiny red marks on the toddler's lungs were proof he had been asphyxiated.
But six other forensic experts concluded Smith was wrong. They said the boy had epilepsy, which meant he could have died from a seizure or other natural causes.
James Lockyer, a lawyer for the group who is representing Marquardt, told CBC News there is "every reason" to think his client is innocent and said he would present evidence to prove it.
As for Smith, Marquardt said she doesn't think the former pathologist has fully answered for his actions.
"All I want to say to him is, 'Why?' " she told reporters.
Smith made 'false and misleading statements': inquiry
Marquardt, who was only 23 years old and pregnant when she went to prison, is the only one involved in that review who is still behind bars. She has been serving her sentence at the Grand Valley Institution in Kitchener, Ont.
Her baby and another son, both born after she was charged, were seized by the Children's Aid Society and later adopted.
Lockyer noted she has been behind bars longer than William Mullins-Johnson, who spent 12 years in prison after Smith wrongly accused him of murdering his four-year-old niece in 1993.
Mullins-Johnson, who was acquitted by the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2007, came to the courthouse to show his support for his friend Marquardt.
"We connected immediately," he said. "The length of time that we were sentenced to, the damage to our families, to ourselves. We paralleled each other in a lot of ways."
The two walked away from the courthouse hand-in-hand.
At the provincial inquiry examining Smith's mistakes, the former pathologist apologized to the people who suffered because of his errors.
In his final report, Justice Stephen Goudge found that over a 10-year span at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Smith "actively misled" his superiors, "made false and misleading statements" in court and exaggerated his expertise in trials.
With files from the Canadian Press