May 22, 2015


Local

The judge's ruling

On the Crown's case:

The Crown may have proven that a shoddy police investigation took place. But it fell short in proving any criminal conduct, provincial court Judge Kelly Moar ruled.

"The Crown has not met the burden of proof," Moar said Friday. "(The investigation) certainly lacked, but it does not mean Harry Bakema displayed any criminal intent."

With the legal standard of "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" required, Moar said the Crown failed in its duty.

On the now-defunct East St. Paul police service's role in the botched crash probe:

He said it's clear chief Bakema and ESP police were in over their heads and questioned why Bakema didn't call for additional resources. Only four officers, including Bakema, were dispatched to the scene of the deadly crash and were quickly overwhelmed.

"It should have been apparent to him they weren't equipped," said Moar. "There was no investigation conducted at the scene. If there was, it was very minimal."

Moar also noted Bakema's conduct that day has left many questions unanswered.

"Why he acted that way is something only he knows. It's something Mr. Bakema will have to live with the rest of his life in terms of the actions he took that day."

On the problem with police witnesses who claimed Bakema may have ignored evidence Harvey-Zenk was intoxicated:

Moar said while the officers were so-called "professional" witnesses, their conduct, at times, was anything but. Shoddy note-keeping, changing stories and conflicting evidence left him with a reasonable doubt about the validity of much of their testimony.

"The lack of notes was an issue the court had to consider," he said. "The lack of notes was a common theme throughout the prosecution."

Some witnesses, such as Crystal Taman's cousin -- patrol Sgt. Cecil Sveinson, may have had their judgment clouded by a personal connection to the case, said Moar.

Others, such as former East St. Paul constable Jason Woychuk, may have swayed by an immunity agreement with investigators that protected him from prosecution, he said.

On the 18-month delay between the end of the trial and his verdict:

Moar said the type of complex, and often conflicting evidence, made it difficult to render his decision.

"It was an extremely difficult case to sort out from the court's perspective," he said.

Moar said he spent a great deal of time re-listening to testimony and analyzing individual witnesses to determine their credibility and what evidence should be considered.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 2, 2013 A6

History

Updated on Saturday, November 2, 2013 at 12:28 PM CDT: minor editing

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Mike Deal | @wfpmdeal

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