Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Crown turning to high court in Derksen case

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MANITOBA prosecutors were left with three options after Mark Grant was suddenly granted a new murder trial in the decades-old death of schoolgirl Candace Derksen.

They could cut Grant loose and drop the case, embark on another complex and expensive trial or take the middle road by asking Canada's highest court to step in.

Monday, the Manitoba Prosecutions Service confirmed they've elected the latter choice and will seek leave to appeal from the Supreme Court of Canada in hopes of overturning a recent bombshell decision from Manitoba's Appeal Court that quashed Grant's conviction.

The leave application is the first step in what could be a long legal process that may not result in Grant or Derksen's family achieving resolution for years. The Crown must demonstrate to the high court the case has "national importance" before it can get a full hearing.

If the high court declines to hear a case, it does not give reasons why. The Crown has not yet signalled what errors in law it believes were made by the Manitoba Appeal Court in overturning Grant's conviction.

Grant, 50, learned Oct. 30 his conviction of second-degree murder in the 1984 death of Derksen, 13, was nullified in the Manitoba Court of Appeal. The court ruled he was not afforded the right to make a full defence.

A jury convicted Grant in early 2011 after a lengthy, complex trial. He was sentenced in 2012 to life in prison without a chance of parole for 25 years.

The Crown's case hinges on DNA evidence allegedly linking him to twine used to bind Derksen, who went missing after school Nov. 30, 1984, and was found weeks later tied up and frozen to death in a rarely used machinery shed in a brickyard near the Nairn Avenue overpass. Grant was arrested in 2007 in Thunder Bay, Ont., and has been in custody ever since.

-- James Turner

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 26, 2013 A6

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