Mike on Crime
with Mike McIntyre
- "Crime and Punishment" show from the cozy confines of prison.You'll recall these two Winnipeg street gang members were just hit Friday with precedent-setting prison terms for refusing to testify in the high-profile Phil Haiart murder trial.My technical producer, Amy, told me during a break that I might want to chat with the caller named "Cory" off the air. She had a sense this might not be a routine type of situationAnd she was right.Amyotte quickly identified himself, answered a couple of my questions just to verify this wasn't some prankster, and insisted he had something to say.Not entirely sure where this was going - but never one to refuse a person's right to speak - I didn't hesitate to bring them on.Go figure - Amyotte doesn't think much of the four-year sentence he got from Justice Albert Clearwater."I'm appealing," Amyotte quickly told the radio audience.Abdullah took a slightly different approach, expressing concern with his three-and-a-half year term ONLY because it will delay his deportation back to his native Iraq."All I want right now is to get deported. Get me out of this country. I don't like it," said Abdullah.The two angry Mad Cowz then went on to criticize police for getting them to talk in the first place - a move that resulted in their videotaped statements being shown to jurors. Amyotte and Abdullah, of course, were the intended targets of the shooting that killed Haiart in October 2005.As a result, they were the only eyewitnesses who could put the gun in the hands of the two accused - Jeff Cansanay and a 17-year-old youth who can't yet be named.Amyotte and Abdullah refused to testify at both trials with vastly different results.Cansanay was acquitted in April when Justice Morris Kaufman refused to let jurors see their videotaped statements.The youth was convicted of seven charges last week when Clearwater allowed their statements in. He is now likely going to receive an adult sentence.Amyotte and Abdullah told me they only spoke to police in the first place because they were receiving sweet deals in exchange - no charges would be laid for their admitted involvement in several attacks on Cansanay and the youth preceding Haiart's death."They gave us immunity," said Amyotte.I asked both gang members if they now regretted not testifying, as they are paying a heavy price while still being exposed as "rats" for talking to police in the first place."I don't regret it one bit," said Amyotte.Abdullah and Amyotte, not surprisingly, tried to distance themselves from what they said in the police video."I don't believe these guys are guilty," Amyotte said of the youth and Cansanay.Abdullah went even further. He specifically identified Cansanay and the youth as being the ones to shoot at him and Amyotte in his statement to police. Now he claims that wasn't true."I only said it because I didn't want to get charged," said Abdullah."Are you saying now you gave false information at the time?" I asked."Yes," he replied.Sounds like damage control to me. It was at that point I ended the conversation. I'd let them both have a brief say, got some interesting comments on the record, but I was fearful of giving these two gangsters too much of a podium.As I told the radio audience, it was a pretty powerful example of what police, prosecutors and the justice system are up against when dealing with reluctant witnesses and gangbangers who believe they are in control.So now that they've had their say, it's your turn. Feel free to post your feedback below on the following questions which have been circulating through my brain.-Should I have even brought these guys on the air in the first place? Was I just giving them 15 minutes of fame? Or was it a good slice of life and unique angle on an important legal story.-Will the contempt of court sentences handed down by Clearwater truly send a strong message to others that silence won't be accepted in court? Is this a sign that the courts are finally looking to wrestle control back from the criminals?-Will the Manitoba Court of Appeal support Clearwater's positions - both on allowing the videotaped into evidence and then hammering the reluctant witnesses with long prison terms? And, if they do, will that encourage other judges to go out on a limb as Clearwater did?By the way, click HERE if you'd like to listen to my interview with Amyotte and Abdullah. Just select the date - July 1 - and time 7 p.m., then move the hour counter on your audio player ahead to around the 34 minute mark, where it begins.www.mikeoncrime.com
- HERE)As a performer with the wildly popular World Wrestling Entertainment, Benoit has played to global audiences most athletes and entertainers can only dream of.I've personally seen him perform several times and even got the chance to meet him a few years ago in Saskatchewan while doing a feature story on pro wrestling for the Free Press.Benoit was the consumate pro, a total class act who had no problem answering my questions about the rigours of life on the road, the importance of his family and the responsibilities that come with being a role model to so many.When the serious chatter was done, Benoit even took up Free Press photographer Wayne Glowacki's suggestion that he put me in a headlock.Now we were talking Benoit's language. Because although he was never the greatest talker on the microphone, Benoit loved the physical action and was certainly regarded as one of the best pure athletes and technicians the storied history of pro wrestling has ever seen.And, as a proud Canadian, Benoit won the hearts of many fans - young and old - for his desire and determination in the ring.It's safe to say the majority of mourners will be more shocked by how Benoit and his family died - not the fact that yet another pro wrestler is gone.Sadly, wrestling has a terrible recent history of stars fading out fast. And wrestling fans have almost come to expect another sad ending right around the corner. Much of the deaths have been the result of health ailments suffered by years of drug, alcohol and/or steroid abuse. If the reports coming out of Atlanta are true, Benoit killed his wife and son in the past few days - then finally took his own life Monday morning.There is no question Chris Benoit was a larger-than-life superhero to many.And I'm sure many people were hoping news of this tragedy was just another tacky WWE storyline taking shape.After all, this is the same company that recently staged the explosive "death" of owner Vince McMahon on live television in a ratings stunt complete with a fictional investigator searching for his supposed killer.This plot was slated to heat up this week on the company's flagship show, Monday Night Raw, and was to include an elaborate funeral/memorial service for McMahon. So no doubt many viewers were stunned Monday night to flick on The Score in Canada and USA Network down south to see a very much alive McMahon standing in an empty ring, fighting emotion, announcing the deaths of Benoit and his family.A genuine, three-hour memorial show followed. And real tears - not the ones cooked up for a television audience - began to flow.There will be many more tears in the days to come, along with so many questions about how this could have happened.Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts below.
- HERE, there were two separate weekend shootings which left one man dead and two others seriously injured. Police say both may be gang-related.Maybe the most disturbing case is the one my colleague, Bruce Owen, reported exclusively on late last week.A Hells Angels was stabbed in a Corydon Avenue bar in a case that shows even the world's most powerful criminal organization isn't immune from coming under attack. (Read story HERE)Why should this worry us? Well, the fact is the Hells are perhaps in the biggest state of confusion right now, with several members behind bars either convicted of serious charges or facing them. Many insiders believe they are ripe for a challenge to the virtual monopoly they enjoy in this province - and the fact that someone would boldly attack a member with a knife might suggest it has already started.As Bruce reported, "Some sources said the attack could be a prelude to a gang war, in that a Hells Angel was apparently targeted for no other reason than he’s one of 14 Hells Angels in Manitoba."And that can't be good for anyone living in Manitoba. Just ask folks in Quebec how they enjoyed having a biker battle erupt on their streets several years ago.This will be something to watch very closely in the next few weeks.www.mikeoncrime.com
- Canadian Press story previewing the beginning of the end reads, in part "On the face of it, Conrad Black’s fraud trial has had all the spice and saucy detail a jury could hope for from a celebrity court affair: betrayal, alleged abuse of luxurious perks, sneaky backroom money moves, vicious outbursts."Hmmm, sounds interesting. But I think this is a case where the (Ontario-based) media hype has far exceeded the reality of what has gone down.I think I speak for plenty of average Canadians when I sum up the case in the following way.Yawn.In any event, things appear to be heating up a bit this week with final arguments leading into the jury's verdict.And with the fate of Lord Black hanging in the balance - we know they don't mess around with white collar crime in the U.S. - there's plenty on the line.So, how do you see this shaking down? Just click HERE to cast your vote in my latest online Jury Poll question.www.mikeoncrime.com
- If you're starting to think about your winter travel plans, I invite you to read the information below. I promise you won't find a better deal anywhere!As well, we are also hosting a “CRUISE INFORMATION NIGHT” this coming Tuesday, JUNE 12 at 7 P.M. in Winnipeg.We’d love you to join us for a fun night for info/daydreaming. It’s being held at Journeys Travel and Leisure Centre, 102-326 Wardlaw Avenue at Donald.CRUISE INFO:We will depart Thursday January 24/08, overnight in Miami, and then depart on our 9-day cruise Friday January 25, returning Sunday February 3.We will be on board a brand new ship, the Norwegian Pearl, touring through the exotic Southern Caribbean.We make five ports of call in Tortolo, Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados and the Dominican Republic. There are three days “at-sea”PRICES:Prices include: Return airfare, cruise, hotel in Miami, Florida night before cruise, all transfers, welcome aboard cocktail party, one shore excursion, $25 Journey’s gift certificate.INSIDE STATEROOM – $1,971 per personOCEAN VIEW STATEROOM – $2,191 per personBALCONY – $2,957 per personOTHER INFO:We only have 20 cabins blocked off this year and interest has been really high since I started mentioning it on my weekly national radio show and website recently. Journey’s has also started weekly newspaper advertising.This is shaping up to be the most exciting of the three cruises we will have done, in our opinion. Here’s why:-It is longer, 9 days instead of 7, as several of our past cruisers have expressed an interest in going for a couple more days. Who can blame them??? You won’t want to leave either!-It is on a brand new ship. The Norwegian Pearl just launched in December, so it should still have the “new ship smell” when we climb aboard next January! One of the coolest features – a 10-pin bowling alley on board!-It is more exotic. And likely hotter. And with even more to do. The Southern Caribbean ports of call are truly wonderful, and we have heard great stories about them all from many veteran cruisers. Perhaps the best part about them are the volume of off-shore excursions to choose from, which are certainly far greater then what we’ve had the first two years. It seems like there’s an activity for absolutely everyone.As you likely know, signing on for a “group” cruise is simply a great way to get a better rate. Because our sponsor, Journey’s Travel, is buying in bulk, they can secure much better pricing then what an individual couple could get.As well, it’s a great way to experience new things with like-minded folks who may end up becoming good friends.However, don’t think going with a group means you won’t get to chart your own adventure. You will have all the time in the world to do absolutely everything you like. There are no commitments whatsoever.If you’d like to simply treat it as if you were just going by yourselves – yet taking advantage of the discounted group rate – there’s nothing wrong with that.If you’d like to hang out with some of the other Canadian cruisers in the group, well, you’re more than welcome as well. In the past two years, we usually ate dinners as a group and took in a few nightly theatre shows together. But with the exception of our on-board cocktail party and the one included group excursion, everyone has tended to go their own way the remainder of the time. It’s been a perfect mix of private time and socializing.This year, the eating situation is a little bit different. Our boat has 13 different restaurants to choose from and something called “Freestyle Cruising” which basically gives you the option to eat whenever you want, whereever you want. This obviously could change our ability to eat as a group, but we’d like to try and make an effort to get as many people together for dinners each evening in the same place at the same time as we’ve really enjoyed spending that extra time together getting to know everyone while sharing amazing five-course meals!So, if you are thinking this would be a great way to getaway for a bit next winter, don’t hesitate!You can email me for more information (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call Journeys as soon possible.PHONE: 942-5000 in Winnipeg or toll-free at 1-800-859-6354 There is also a little perk to making a deposit this early. You will receive a reservation number which will allow you to purchase your excursions before it gets too busy. For popular ones such as swimming with dolphins this is a great bonus.Hope to see you on board!
- CJOB 680 AM) - 7-9 p.m.VANCOUVER (CKNW 980 AM) - 5-7 p.m.CALGARY (CHQR 770 AM) - 6-8 p.m.EDMONTON (CHED 630 AM) - 6-8 p.m.REGINA (CJME 980 AM)- 6-8 p.m.SASKATOON (CKOM 650 AM)- 6-8 p.m.MONTREAL (AM 940) - 8-10 p.m.I'm thrilled about the move from afternoons to evenings and hope you'll check us out across the Corus and Rawlco radio networks.The only thing that's changing is the time slot - we'll still have our usual collection of breaking news, hot button topics, in-depth discussion and interviews with legal newsmakers around the world.Crime and Punishment is Canada's only national law and order radio program. I created it in February 2003 and debuted on CJOB in Winnipeg. The show entered the national stage - and switched to afternoons - in March 2006, taking over from recently retired Peter Warren.Thanks for the continued support!www.mikeoncrime.com
- HERE to read all about it, including details on pricing and how you can get on board. You'll also note we're hosting a Cruise Information Night this coming June 12 in Winnipeg. If you're interested in our cruise, or just want to take in some general information about cruising, make sure to come by.www.mikeoncrime.com
- www.mikeoncrime.com, which asks you to vote on your opinion.*****On a somewhat related matter, convicted pedophile Peter Whitmore may have recently tried to exercise his right to die during a botched suicide bid inside a Regina jail cell.The Regina Leader Post reported earlier this week of a grisly attempt that included slashing his wrists and apparently trying to sever his penis with a tin can lid.Dan Brodsky knows Whitmore probably better then anyone in this country. As his long-time former lawyer, Brodsky has spent countless hours getting inside his client's head."I can't believe Peter would do that," Brodsky told me on the phone the other day upon hearing of the report.Although he is no longer acting for Whitmore (because of a Legal Aid squabble), Brodsky still keeps in touch with his former client. They last spoke about two weeks ago by telephone - around the time Whitmore apparently tried to mutilate and/or kill himself.If the report is indeed true, Brodsky believes this is only going to enhance something he first told me last fall after Whitmore had been arrested and charged with abducting and sexually assaulting two young boys in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.That would be Brodsky's claim that Whitmore is mentally ill. After all, who else but someone with serious head problems would attempt to castrate themselves, Brodsky said.It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Whitmore could be headed for trial as early as this fall, and we'll be watching closely to see if he tries to argue that a mental hospital - and not a prison - is the right place for him to be.And whether what apparently happened two weeks ago becomes a factor.
- Emilia Rzedzian hardly turned a blind eye - but that still hasn't stopped lawyers for two men of essentially accusing her of manslaughter.In case you missed it, Rzedzian is the Winnipeg woman who happened to be driving down the street late one night when she saw three young men viciously assaulting a helpless victim.She briefly stopped her car, whipped out her cell phone and called 911. She then watched as the attackers seemingly fled the scene, leaving the beaten man laying on the road.Rzedzian described her fear to the emergency operator and was assured help was on the way.Unfortunately, it arrived too late. The victim, Adam Lecours, was struck and killed by another passing motorist who didn't see his body on the street.Police eventually charged the three men who beat him with manslaughter. They were all convicted after trial, the judge ruling that leaving Lecours in such a vulnerable position was criminally negligent and resulted in his death.Sounds reasonable, no?Not according to lawyers for the two adult killers, who are essentially trying to shift blame away from themselves and place it squarely on the shoulders of Rzedzian.In a nutshell, they're saying "why should we be held responsible for leaving him in the street when she didn't go pull him to safety either - and she was the last one to see him".The argument, as I see it, has no basis.Rzedzian wasn't the one who beat Lecours to the point he couldn't fend for himself - they did.And how could any reasonable person expect her to do anything more than call for help as she did? Sure, there may be some people who would have gone that extra step. But we've all read stories about people trying to play the role of hero who end up being victimized themselves.As Lecours' widow told me, she is thankful Rzedzian at least had the courage to dial the telephone. Sadly there are some people who probably wouldn't have even done that.And the victim's loved ones are livid the killers are now trying to deflect blame away from theselves - especially since they had the chance to make this same argument during the trial yet failed to do so.Only at the last second, as they are about to be sentenced, do they pull it out of thin air. Amazingly, the judge here is going to take nearly a full month to consider whether it has "any merit"!To add insult to injury, Queen's Bench Justice Karen Simonsen also told the family they could not display pictures of Lecours in court while reading their victim impact statements, which they expected to do Friday but have now been told are on hold indefinitely.The judge says the pictures won't add to her understanding of the crime and agreed with the protests of the defence lawyers.But the images weren't for her - they were for the killers, to see exactly what the man they killed looked like. Not in a bloody heap on the street, but as a living, breathing human being.Yet despite the fact family members of other recent homicide victims have been allowed to show photos, the Lecours family is being shut out.And any faith they had in the so-called justice system is gone as well.My e-mail inbox and phone lines lit up when I discussed this issue with the family on my national radio show this past Sunday night. People were outraged.I promised to give folks another forum to vent, so here it is. Keep the discussion going and post your thoughts below.
- HERE to vote - felt Latimer should have released.Post your thoughts below.
- Free Press site and my Mikeoncrime site.Read the woman's e-mail below, and then my response to her.And then tell me what you think by posing your thoughts below.This is definitely a subject worth having a discussion about. I think it's always important that we in the media take a step back and examine what we do, and how we do it, to see if there is room for change. Let me know your thoughts.THE EMAIL"You know, I have to state how disappointed I am that you would link to the audio clip of the 9-1-1 call made by Michelle Camire. I think it was a tasteless move by the Free Press to air it, and I think it was tasteless of you to promote it.I understand that this is a newsworthy story. And once more, I understand that the public devours this kind of tragedy. But there's a difference between delivering the news, and sensationalizing a story. Printing the transcript is news. Airing the phone call is sensationalizing. That was most likely the lowest point in that poor woman's life. She was broken and down, so why take the opportunity to knock her once more?On top of airing the phone call, I think it's absolutely disgusting that you, and/or the Free Press didn't see fit to edit out the name of the child. Even the Winnipeg Sun had enough decency and class to remove an innocent bystander from the fray.That poor little girl's world is probably upside down. Her family is going through horrible turmoil, her mother's address has been publicly aired, a picture of the home has been publicized on TV, and then under the guise of 'news story', they throw the little girl's name in. For what purpose?Furthermore, whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Everywhere you look, this woman has been exploited and exposed. When you have cases of rapists and pedophiles, you don't see the names of the accused. Why is this so different? Often times it's to protect the names of the victims and the innocent. Wouldn't the young daughter fall into that category? You can't print the names of young offenders, heaven forbid. But feel free to shine the spotlight on a grieving mother and her family, all just to sell a newspaper.I really thought better of you, and your paper."MY RESPONSE"I certainly can appreciate where you're coming from on this and fully respect your opinion. I do, however, feel there is a valid news reason to hear the tape. It paints a picture of the mother's state of mind at the time of the alleged crime. Some people may think she callously and without regard killed her child. The tape may provide some insight - or even sympathy - for her plight.I'm very aware of the need not to exploit. I didn't post any of the Virginia Tech madman's videos. To me, that's just inviting copycats, exploiting a tragedy and putting him up on a pedestal.I don't see Michelle Camire's case the same way. Nobody's going to hear the tape and want to do as she did. If anything, this case and the coverage on it may help other mom's and parents struggling with similar issues to reach out for help before its too late.As for the child's name - I think its important he be remembered and recognized as a victim here. Why should he just be a nameless, faceless victim? Attaching a name, I believe, makes it more real. And makes him real. And not just a sad anonymous statistic. Regards."
- www.mikeoncrime.com - hasn't missed a beat so far, thanks to the high-speed Internet connection that is allowing me to make regular daily updates no matter what port of call we may be in or where in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean we may find ourselves.The connection is nearly as fast as at home, and it's allowed me to stay on top of the latest news from around our community, country and world.(And bring a few evil smiles to the faces of our fellow travelers when I told them earlier this week much of western Canada was under a blizzard warning! "Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people," cackled one native Manitoban before returning to his gourmet five-course meal)Some may say "Mike, that's not exactly a holiday if you're still working". Perhaps, but I feel lost (and certainly not very relaxed) if I stray too far from current events. So I consider it a blessing, not a curse! (Although my wife may disagree!!)2) I'm constantly amazed how small this world is. Case in point. I'm sitting at the blackjack table Sunday evening, well on my way to kissing another $20 good-bye. A guy I've never seen before leans over during a break in play and says "So, did you do your radio show from the boat tonight???". Once I picked my jaw up from the ground, I found out the guy was a fellow Winnipegger and listener of my "Crime and Punishment" show (which, for the record, are "Best Of" taped shows on both Jan. 27 and Feb. 3)He had booked his cruise ages ago, along with five fellow Winnipeggers, before realizing they could have saved some bucks by taking advantage of the great group rate a hosted cruise like ours can offer. (Ah well, maybe next year...)Another example occurred earlier Tuesday. My wife and I were on a glorious, three-hour tropical rainforest hike in Antigua when we get to talking to a friendly couple who were also on the excursion. We asked where they're from. They say West Virginia. They ask us the same question back. We tell them Winnipeg. To which the man replies..."Wow, I lived in Winnipeg for about 20 years."Incredible.Turns out his father worked for CBC radio. And he had plenty of questions about the state of pro sports teams in town and how downtown was doing. 3) Swimming with dolphins is an amazing experience.My wife and I lived out a dream on Tuesday in Tortola when we spent nearly a full hour in a dolphin sanctuary, which included a ride on their bellies, a little dance and a great big wet sloppy smooch from Flipper. Just an incredible day, and I strongly encourage anyone who has the opportunity to do this to take advantage of it. The big price is well worth it!I'll have plenty more to say about the cruise in an upcoming Winnipeg Free Press travel feature. And I'll be back in the crime saddle on Monday, with a full slate of new Free Press stories, radio shows, blogs and even some news about my next book project!Until then, feel free to go back and read some previous blogs and discuss anything that's burning a hole in your saddle...and stay warm!
- my perfect postseason picks (11 for 11 in NHL playoff series so far, need the Sharks to beat Red Wings to keep the streak alive!) I much prefer the hockey arena to the political one. That being said, Manitoba Tory leader Hugh McFadyen has been firing some political pucks this week that have certainly got my attention.None more so that Sunday's bombshell, in which McFadyen promised Manitobans that electing his party into power will mean the end of Legal Aid funding for convicted gang members. (Read story HERE)Oh, and by bombshell I really mean "absolutely absurd announcement". Who is he kidding? In an effort to cash in on the current crime craze, McFadyen has gone way offside by vowing to do something that must have every constitutional lawyer in this land salivating.Not to mention an entire justice system - judges, defence lawyers and Crown attorneys - who are all too aware of recent cases of wrongful conviction and some of the lessons that have come out of subsequent inquiries.I don't recall ever hearing it suggested that refusing people's right to a lawyer is a move in the right direction.This idea may look good on paper to some, but there is no way it would ever survive a court challenge. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees "every arrested person the right to retain counsel without delay".McFadyen thinks the way around that is by noting the Charter doesn't go on to extend that counsel guarantee to taxpayer-funded Legal Aid.So what exactly is McFadyen thinking will happen the first time some unemployed, welfare-collecting gang member who qualifies for Legal Aid gets arrested and needs a lawyer, only to be denied under the Tory plan? Don't forget, Legal Aid carefully screens out who qualifies and who doesn't. There's no middle ground here.In McFadyen's world, I suppose we would just have the gang member represent himself in court. Or else a bunch of good-hearted defence lawyers with plenty of time on their hands will simply volunteer to work the case for free.Of course, neither of those scenarios is plausible. What will actually happen is a series of costly, time-consuming legal challenges. And judges, refusing to have their courtrooms turn into a three-ring circus with a self-represented accused, will simply exercise their power and appoint a private bar lawyer to represent the accused.At a much higher rate, by the way.Don't mistake my criticism of this idea for having a sympathetic heart for poor, down-and-out gang members. I certainly don't.McFadyen made some solid justice announcements earlier in the week, especially with regards to building a new medium-security jail and hiring hundreds more cops, prosecutors, judges and support staff.But the Tory leader is just plain wrong if he thinks this radical Legal Aid idea is actually going to solve existing problems in the system. It will simply create more. I think he needs to call a time out and go back to the drawing board.www.mikeoncrime.com
About Mike McIntyre
Journalist, national radio show host, author, pundit and cruise director ... Mike McIntyre loves to keep busy.
Mike is the justice reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, where he has worked since 1997. He produces and hosts the weekly talk radio show Crime and Punishment, which runs on the Corus Radio Network in several Canadian cities.
Born and bred in Winnipeg, Mike graduated from River East Collegiate and completed his journalism studies in the Creative Communications program at Red River College.
He and his wife, Chassity, have two children.
Blogs that Mike McIntyre follows:
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