December 9, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
The lawyer for Intertribal Child and Family Services says relatives of Karl Wes McKay who reported he killed his stepdaughter, Phoenix Sinclair, should have to testify publicly at the inquiry into her death and not be protected by a publication ban.
Hafeez Khan said there’s no legal justification for protecting the identities of three of McKay’s children and a former spouse.
They’ve applied for a publication ban to keep their names and images out of the media for fear of harassment because of their connection to McKay.
In 2008, he and Phoenix’s mother, Samantha Kematch, were convicted of her 2005 murder.
The five-year-old was killed in June 2005. Her body wasn’t found until March 2006 when her half-brothers told their mom, who reported it.
An inquiry into her death began in September to find out how her case fell through Manitoba’s social-safety net. It has been beset by legal delays. One of those was by social workers whose union fought to have their identities hidden under a publication ban. Now, the lawyer for Intertribal Child and Family Services is fighting a publication ban that would protect the identities of witnesses related to McKay.
Affidavits filed on behalf of McKay’s sons’ say people they work and go to school with don’t know about their father. Their mom’s affidavit says her coworkers don’t know about her former spouse’s gruesome crime, either, and she wants to keep it that way, the inquiry heard.
They testified nearly five years ago at McKay’s criminal trial where they weren’t protected by a publication ban but should have been, said their lawyer Bill Gange.
After their criminal trial testimony, they experienced harassment, their affidavits say.
Having to testify publicly at the inquiry is causing anxiety to her sons, said McKay’s former spouse.
An adult daughter of McKay's said in her affidavit that her children don’t know the identity of their grandfather, McKay.
Khan said no evidence was produced to prove that they were harassed.
The media has not challenged the publication ban. The ban they’re requesting would allow the witnesses to testify at the inquiry by video that spectators could hear but only Commissioner Ted Hughes could see.
Hughes asked Intertribal Child and Family Services’ lawyer Khan several times to explain why his clients wanted the witnesses’ identities made public.
"What purpose it would serve to identify those witnesses?" Hughes asked.
Khan didn’t explain why his clients want the witnesses publicly identified. The lawyer did say one of the witnesses requesting the publication ban is expected to give testimony that will be different from that of Intertribal Child Family Services’ witnesses. Khan argued there is no legal reason for a publication ban to be allowed for McKay’s relatives.
The hearing into the publication ban continues this afternoon when Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs’ lawyer Jay Funke is expected to argue against it.
Updated on Monday, March 11, 2013 at 1:20 PM CDT:
Adds evidence from morning's proceedings.