DNA evidence

DNA Solves 1984 Murder of Christine Jessop

Written on Behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

Toronto Police have announced that they have identified a suspect in the 1984 murder of nine-year-old Christine Jessop (“Christine”).

Investigators used a DNA investigative technique to identify Calvin Hooper (“Hooper”), 28 years old at the time of the murder, as the individual who sexually assaulted and stabbed Jessop to death.

Decades after her death, a DNA sample found on Christine’s underwear was determined to have belonged to Hoover.

THE DISAPPEARANCE AND MURDER OF CHRISTINE JESSOP

Christine went missing on October 3, 1984 in Queensville, Ontario.  She had plans to meet up with a friend that evening at a nearby park, however, she never showed up.  She was last spotted buying a pack of gum at a local convenience store.

Christine’s remains were found three months later on New Year’s Eve in a wooded area in Durham Region, approximately 56 kilometres from her home.  It was discovered that Christine had been raped and murdered. 

Police charged Christine’s neighbour, Guy Paul Morin (“Morin”), in 1984.  He was acquitted in 1986 before a new trial was ordered.  Following a second trial, Morin was found guilty and successfully appealed in 1995.  After serving 18 months in prison, Morin was exonerated due to the advancement in DNA testing.

Following the latest development in Christine’s murder investigation, Morin made the following statement:

I am relieved for Christine’s mother, Janet, and her family, and hope this will give some peace of mind.  They have been through a dreadful ordeal for 36 years since they lost Christine in 1984 …

I am grateful that the Toronto Police stayed on the case and have now finally solved it.  When DNA exonerated me in January 1995, I was sure that one day DNA would reveal the real killer and now it has.

HOW DOES GENETIC GENEALOGY WORK?

Genetic genealogy involves DNA analysis combined with matching a sample to a database of DNA to determine a familial relationship.  Investigators can upload a suspect’s DNA to a genetic lineage database, such as 23andme or GEDmatch.  They can then build a family lineage of other known samples that share the same DNA characteristics.  Investigators can search through related names and cross-reference them with their proximity to the crime scene, their relationship to the victim or their family. 

Traditional forensics can identify approximately 20 genetic markers.  In the Jessop case, Toronto Police sent a DNA sample to Othram, a lab in the United States which uses cutting-edge technology to identify hundreds of thousands of genetic markers that can help identify very distant relatives.  Unfortunately, there are no labs in Canada that specialize in genetic genealogy.

The DNA findings from the genetic genealogy test helped investigators in the Jessop case to create two potential family trees.  Investigators plowed through numerous detailed reports and documents and eventually discovered Calvin Hooper, who had a relationship with the Jessop family.

Staff Supt. Peter Code of Toronto Police Services explained:

Simply put, it is not a DNA match.  What it is, is it provides a potential and I must stress a potential family lineage from a DNA sample.  Then it is up to a police investigator to build from that potential family lineage.

Hoover’s wife was Jessop’s father’s co-worker.  According to Kenney Jessop, Christine’s brother, he and his sister played with Hoover’s children.

Hoover died by suicide in 2015. 

Although genetic genealogy is not widely used in Canada, this latest conclusion to the Jessop case may change how investigations take place.

According to Sean Sparling, a former police chief and present of the Investigative Solutions Network:

This is going to be a new emerging technology for Canadian law enforcement.  You’re going to see a lot of cold case units where they have unsolved homicides, unsolved serial rapist cases, they’re going to be turning to this technology.

Genetic genealogy has helped solve several cold cases in the United States, such as the identity of a woman killed near a Lake Tahoe hiking trail in 1982 and the exoneration of a man in California who was falsely accused of murdering a newspaper columnist and spent 14 years in prison.

Genetic genealogy has its fair share of critics warning that there are privacy risks involved in using this technology for investigating crimes.  Many individuals who use genealogical websites may not realize what they are consenting to when they sign up to use them online.  In some cases, when you consent to use a genetic database you are also consenting for your children and their unborn children. 

If you are facing criminal charges or have any other questions or concerns about your legal rights, please contact Affleck & Barrison LLP online or at 905-404-1947.  Our skilled criminal lawyers have significant experience defending a wide range of criminal charges and protecting their client’s rights.  For your convenience, we offer 24-hour phone services.  We are available when you need us most.

Jury Finds Lovers Guilty of First-Degree Murder

Written on Behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

After five days of deliberations, a Toronto jury have found Michael Ivezic (“Ivezic”) and Demitry Papasotiriou-Lanteigne (“Papasotiriou-Lanteigne”) guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Allan Lanteigne (“Lanteigne”).

The Crown prosecutor alleged that Ivezic and Papasotiriou-Lanteigne conspired to kill the latter’s spouse in the foyer of his Ossington Avenue home on March 2, 2011. It was alleged that the two accused were having an affair and plotted the crime to access the victim’s $2 million life insurance policy and depart for Greece to start a life together.

The two men will return to court on June 7, 2018 when victim impact statements will be read from Lanteigne’s family. They will also receive their sentence at that time. A first-degree murder conviction carries with it a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

WHAT HAPPENED?

Lanteigne was found dead in his home on March 3, 2011. There were no signs of forced entry and police did not find the murder weapon. An autopsy revealed that Lanteigne was beaten to death.

Lanteigne and Papsotiriou-Lanteigne were married on November 27, 2004. Their relationship “fizzled out” in 2008, although they continued to live together. At some point in 2009, Ivezic and Papasotiriou-Lanteigne began having an affair. Ivezic was even given a key to the house by Papasotiriou-Lanteigne.

By the spring of 2010, Papasotiriou-Lanteigne moved to Greece where his father lived. He continued to pay for airline tickets for Ivezic to visit him. These expenses were paid for by Lanteigne who was working two jobs at the time in Toronto. There were various emails read to the jury written by Lanteigne that indicated that he was tired of giving Papasotiriou-Lanteigne money. Lanteigne threatened to cut off his cheating spouse.

Papasotiriou-Lanteigne was arrested on a visit to Toronto in November, 2012, when he returned to Canada for court proceedings related to his claim for Lanteigne’s life insurance payout.

Ivezic was arrested by authorities in Greece and extradicted to Canada in June, 2013. Ivezic had left his wife and children and was living in Greece with Papsotiriou-Lanteigne as of May 2011.

Both men denied any involvement in the death of Lanteigne.

Crown prosecutors alleged that Papasotirious-Lanteigne “lured” Lanteigne to their home on the evening of his death. An email dated March 2, 2011 was read to the jury from Papasotiriou-Lanteigne requesting that Lanteigne call him in Greece as soon as he got home.

The key piece of evidence was DNA found under the fingernails of the deceased’s right hand belonging to Ivezic. The prosecution argued that this evidence was left as the victim fought for his life. Ivezic argued that his DNA was planted or ended up there as part of an “innocent transfer”. Ivezic suggested that maybe his DNA was transferred to Lanteigne when he and the victim had touched the same surface or when they shared lunch together days before the murder. However, there was no evidence at trial to suggest that Ivezic was friends with the deceased or that they had lunch together.

This case has lasted for many years with both accused challenging every aspect of the case, including allegations that the Crown prosecutors hid disclosure, tampered with police records and evidence, lied to the defence and the court and colluded with police. Furthermore, the accused had more than a dozen defence lawyers and court-appointed lawyers appear on their behalf since they were charged. There was even a period of time during the trial that Ivezic represented himself before the jury.

Following the victim’s death, Papasotiriou filed claims against two firms that insured his spouse as he was seeking $2 million. Papasotiriou is named as the sole beneficiary on the victim’s life insurance policy.

RARE REINSTATEMENT OF FIRST-DEGREE MURDER CHARGE

In September, 2014 following a preliminary hearing, an Ontario Court judge discharged Papasotiriou-Lanteigne, a Toronto lawyer, on the basis that there was not enough evidence to convict him.

A preliminary hearing is held in cases involving serious crimes where the prosecution must show a judge that there is a bare minimum of evidence to justify a full trial. This is often a chance for an accused’s lawyer to see what case the prosecution has against their client.

In October, 2014, the Ministry of the Attorney General signed a preferred indictment that reinstated the first-degree murder charge against Papsotiriou-Lanteigne.

This is a unique occurrence permitted by section 577 of the Criminal Code. The purpose of this section was described by Southin J.A. of the British Columbia Court of Appeal in the case of R. v. Charlie as follows:

Such a power is arecognition of the ultimate constitutional responsibility of Attorneys General to ensure that those who ought to be brought to trial are brought to trial.

We will continue to follow this case and report in this blog on any developments as they occur.

In the meantime, if you have been charged with a criminal offence or have questions regarding your legal rights, please contact the experienced criminal lawyers at Affleck & Barrison LLP online or at 905-404-1947. We have a 24-hour phone service for your convenience. We are not afraid to fight for your rights and protect your interests.

The Problem with Eyewitness Testimony

Written on Behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

In trials involving eyewitness testimony, the frailty of memory often becomes a key part of the defence strategy, . Eyewitness accounts can make a deep impression on a jury, especially when the witness is expresses a high level of certainty. However, although a confident eyewitness can make or break a trial, experience shows that mistaken identifications have and do occur and courts have long recognized this.

Many people believe that human memory works like a video recording of our experience, but according to experts, memories are actually quite fragile and susceptible to contamination. As the recent trial of Jian Ghomeshi shows, memories can change over time and be impacted by stress and trauma. The science behind why people remember certain details and not others, and why our memories and the way we recount them can change over time have been closely studied and arise frequently in court.

Several studies have been conducted on human memory and on the propensity for eyewitnesses to remember events and details that did not occur. It is not uncommon for victims to genuinely and confidently identify their attackers only to be proven wrong by DNA evidence years later, as was the case in the Netflix documentary Making a Murderer.

 But this does not mean that eyewitness identification is always unreliable. Sometimes eyewitness identification can be used to exonerate a person who is wrongfully accused of a crime. However, courts are now aware of the ability of third parties to introduce false memories to witnesses. There is only one chance to test the memory of an eyewitness as their memories can become contaminated. That is why it is so important that the testing conditions are adequate. Proper interview techniques and procedures by police and prosecutors are essential to ensure the reliability of identification evidence.

If you would like to speak to an experienced criminal defence lawyer, please contact Affleck & Barrison online or at 905-404-1947.