Mike on Crime

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  • Breaking their silence - on national radio

    prairie-radio-mic[1].gif They had nothing to say in court - but plenty to share with a national live radio audience.Gharib Abdullah and Cory Amyotte stunned me and no doubt many listeners Sunday evening when they called into my "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.390t[1].jpg 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.image00F[1].jpg 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
  • If only it were just a storyline...

    4960632.jpg It is not a stretch to suggest there are millions of people around the world in a state of shock right now over the tragic news that Canadian professional wrestler Chris Benoit, his wife Nancy and their 7-year-old son Daniel were found dead in their suburban Atlanta home Monday afternoon.I candidly admit to being one of them and was in a state of disbelief as I penned a story on the tragedy Monday evening. (Read the latest 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.42452568.jpgWhen 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.14-730Wrestler_Dead.sff.standalone.prod_affiliate.38[1].jpg 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.Benoit[1].jpg 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.
  • A long hot summer of violence?

    Several police and justice sources have recently told me to expect a long, hot summer in terms of street and gang violence.628-a3talbot[1].JPG There is plenty of flux right now in the local crime scene as police have made some significant dents with recent arrests and seizures.Still, the demand for the products supplied by local hoods - drugs - is as big as ever and that means plenty of competition for the almighty dollar.In the past we may have been inclined to say 'Oh well, let the criminals take each other out" and simply gone on our merry way.But the October 2005 shooting death of 17-year-old Phil Haiart - an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire of gang warfare - was a disturbing reality check for many.Let's hope it doesnt come to that again. But developments during the past week should have us all concerned.981-a3pacific[1].JPG As you can read 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.NYHETER-22s30-mc-736_438[1].jpg 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
  • Even Einstein would struggle to explain this

    Albert_Einstein_Biography[1].jpg Albert Einstein taught us that E=mc2.lega-emc2-l[1].jpg And yet I can't help but wonder how one of the truly great minds of all-time would attempt to explain the way the Canadian justice system computes numbers.Consider the following puzzling case, which I write about in Friday's Free Press.A 49-year-old man who repeatedly raped his 15-year-old stepdaughter and eventually got her pregnant was sentenced Thursday to 66 months in prison.Many will cry out and say that's not nearly enough for such a horrific crime, especially considering the severe breach of trust and the fact he raped her up to 20 separate times.But wait. It gets worse.It will be a miracle if the man serves a day past 30 months.That's because only in Canada is the sentence you receive truly not worth the paper it's written on.Here's how the sentence breaks down, literally.-The man has served 23 months of pre-trial custody as of today.-The sentencing judge gave him double-time credit, so 23 months quickly became 46.-The judge then ordered him to serve another 20 months.-He is eligible for parole after doing one-third of the remaining time (just short of 7 months).-Even if not released early, he will get statutory release after two-thirds (just under 14 months).Here's where we show our work.A) 23 months (pre-trial custody) X 2 (double-time credit) = 46 months + 20 months (additional time) = 66 months. B) 23 months (time actually spent in custody to date) + 7 months (time remaining if granted 1/3 parole) = 30 months.C) 23 months (time actually spent in custody to date) + 14 months (time remaining if denied parole until statutory 2/3 release date) = 37 months.I think I probably learned in kindergarten, or maybe even nursery school, that 66 is greater than 30. Or 37.Yet Canadian justice system math would have us believe it's all equal.This case is hardly unique. This sort of thing plays out every single day, in every single Canadian city.And it's why many people have been calling on our elected leaders to look at bringing in "truth in sentencing", which means exactly what is suggests.66 months would mean 66 months. That means no special credit for pre-trial custody. No early parole. No exceptions.2300-8083~Einstein-E-Mc2-Posters[1].jpg Maybe we could call it Einstein's Law.Thoughts? Post 'em below.
  • Is Black a con?

    The Conrad Black fraud trial is in the final stages this week, with lawyers on both sides taking their best shots during closing arguments.Has anyone out there actually been following this case?blackES1506_468x418[1].jpg A 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
  • Sending messages

    Mark it down, folks.June 2007 will go down as the time when the balance of power shifted out of the hands of lawless, "don't give a damn" gang members and back into the arms of the law-abiding public.Two remarkable events, separated by a few short days, have made this crystal clear.winnipeg_law_courts2[1].jpg The first occurred in a Winnipeg courtroom last week, when Queen's Bench Justice Albert Clearwater sent a message to street thugs that couldn't have been any louder.Faced with the potential collapse of yet another high-profile gang-related murder trial, Clearwater went where NO OTHER JUDGE IN CANADA has gone before in attempting to restore some law-and-order.A witness, called by the Crown to testify about what he saw and/or heard, treated the entire process as a big joke and refused to be sworn in.After repeated warnings about possible consequences. Jammal Jacob still couldn't be bothered.Clearwater quickly wiped the smug look off his face when he found him in contempt of court and sentenced him to three years in prison.Consider this - the biggest sentence anyone in Canada has ever received for such an offence is believed to be two years!Just like that, Clearwater had carved out a new precedent. And made it clear that the justice system would no longer be toyed with.I happened to be sitting beside a couple of fellow Mad Kowz gang members in the public gallery that day.Here's a basic summary of what I immediately overheard them saying to each other."Holy shit man. That's sick. Three years."It was exactly the kind of response Clearwater was aiming for.Unfortunately, two other gang members apparently weren't as fazed.Testify[1].gif Gharib Abdullah and Cory Amyotte were paraded into court later that day and pulled a similar stunt.They were both slapped with contempt convictions. And now they face the prospect of lengthy prison terms when they are sentenced June 25.Clearwater is likely going to absolutely hammer them, especially since both are considered far more important witnesses to the Crown than Jacob.Clearwater alluded to that when he delayed sentencing them immediately, wanting to first see what, if any, affect their silence has on the fate of the trial.Despite what Abdullah and Amyotte did, I'm convinced Clearwater's verdict will pay dividends in a major way.And I applaud the veteran judge for sticking his neck out and making a decision that will likely be appealed.Let's hope Manitoba's high court has his back, the way gang members seem to take great pride in watching out for each other.***The other major development came the following day, when we learned a member of the same Mad Kowz gang had been given a one-way ticket out of Canada.Hussein Jilaow contributed absolutely nothing to this great country since his arrival a decade earlier, racking up 13 different criminal convictions.Many of them were for violence, including a particularly nasty incident last year where he threatened to kill and rape the wife of a jail guard.Jilaow voided his chance to stay in Canada - and immigration officials reacted by punting him out of the country.Somalia[1].gif Jilaow and his lawyer tried to derail the deportation, claiming he faced certain death upon return to his native Somalia.It almost worked. But Canada Border Services persisted and Jilaow is now gone, forever.An immigration source told me last week this move is being applauded by many within the justice system. They all hope it's the first of many deportations.And just like Jammal Jacob's lengthy prison sentence - and the ones coming soon to Abdullah and Amyotte - kicking Jilaow out of the country is sure to get the attention of those who feel they're immune from punishment.***I'm not exactly sure what the tipping point was.But I have no doubt a frightening home invasion earlier this spring by several alleged gang members against a Crown prosecutor was a sign to all in the justice system that things have gotten way out of hand.knowledge-against-prison[1].gif But now it's the justice system hitting back, in a strong and refreshing way that deserves both our praise and support.Agree or disagree? Post your comments below.
  • A dream vacation!

    Folks,Plans have now been finalized for the 2008 Caribbean cruise that my wife, Chassity, and I are honoured to be hosting for a third straight year.545t[1].jpg 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 (mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca) 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!
  • Secret death, public debate

    Does she deserve to be hugged or hung? There are no doubt some very strong mixed opinions these days about what should happen to a young Winnipeg mother at the centre of a truly tragic case that ended with her newborn baby dead.In case you missed it, the 22-year-old woman secretly gave birth alone last December in the bathtub of her downtown apartment - then took shocking steps to conceal her child's death.I uncovered the case through court documents this week - and one of my biggest questions is why Winnipeg police apparently didn't see fit to let the public know about any of this.Anyways, I dug up some shocking new details of the case through court documents Wednesday, which you can read about in Thursday's Free Press.They include:-the woman says she became pregnant as a result of being raped-the woman falsely told loved ones she'd gotten an abortion-the woman never sought out any medical care during her pregnancy-the woman claims to have passed out during labour and says she awoke to find her baby daughter dead-the woman never removed the umbilical cord from around the child's neck-the woman gave her deceased daughter a name - Annabelle - then placed her body in a garbage bag-the woman ordered a pizza and watched television immediately after-over the next four days, the woman says she removed the baby several times, cradling her tiny body in her bed at night-the woman finally went to hospital on day five, presenting the child wrapped in a blanket with a teddy bearNo matter how you look at this case, it is a tragedy of unspeakable levels.Annabelle - who from all accounts could have lived a normal, healthy life - was snuffed out in a bathtub before she could take a single breath.What did she do to deserve such a cruel fate?The biggest debate certainly surrounds the young mother, who has been charged with criminal negligence causing death, failure to obtain help during child birth and concealing a child's body.Even in our newsroom, I've heard suggestions this week that the woman never should have been charged, that she should have been given help instead of handcuffs.No doubt it was a difficult decision for police and justice officials. But I believe it was the right one.No matter how troubled this mother is/was, the fact is a child is dead and it happened on her watch.She had plenty of options to seek help - both before, during and immediately after the pregnancy - but for reasons we may never understand decided to suffer in silence.And her little girl paid the ultimate price.I'm not saying the mother needs to be thrown in the slammer. But I believe there has to be consequences for such actions.I also hope this disturbing case sparks some local debate about what kind of services are being offered to young mothers and how we can prevent people like this from falling through the obvious cracks in the system.What do you think? Should she have been charged? And, if so, what should happen to her in the courts?Post your thoughts below or email me at mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca
  • Crime goes prime time!

    I've got some great news to share.Starting this coming Sunday June 10, my "Crime and Punishment" national radio show is switching times.The show will now air live in the following cities/at the following local times:WINNIPEG (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
  • Off to Sin City

    Gonna be away for the next few days, taking in the many sights and sounds of Las Vegas.The_Killers[1]1.jpg Looking forward to a great trip, the highlight of which will be taking in a Friday concert featuring one of my favourite bands, The Killers.Their music became my unofficial soundtrack for writing my most recent book, as I spent many a looooong night plugging away at the computer while their songs played in the background.Looking forward to seeing them play live - and in their hometown, to boot, in what should be a sweltering outdoor environment at the Hard Rock Summer Concert Bowl.las_vegas_strip[1]1.jpg No doubt I'll throw in a little gambling and engage in some serious "people watching" as well - I don't think there's a better place in the world to see a more diverse slice of human life than on the Vegas strip!I'll be back on home soil Sunday for my "Crime and Punishment" radio show, where no doubt I'll have some interesting stories to share.I'll also be making a pretty exciting announcement regarding the future of the national show! (Details will be posted here on the blog this weekend)In the meantime, we've now finalized details on our 3rd annual Caribbean Cruise, which will be departing this January from Miami and is quickly filling up!norwegian_pearl_cruises.jpg We've only got 20 cabins available, and demand has been extremely high. There are several reasons, including the fact it is a longer cruise (nine days instead of seven), on a brand new ship (the Norwegian Pearl) with a very exotic itinerary (Southern Caribbean).Click 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
  • And the winner is...

    The first three rounds are in the books. Only two teams remain left in the hunt for the Stanley Cup.As faithful readers of my blog know (Hi Mom!), I've had a pretty good spring in terms of making my playoff picks.To recap, I was 8/8 in the first round, 3/4 in the second round, and 1/2 last round.My two incorrect picks have been taking San Jose over Detroit, and then Buffalo over Ottawa.The final starts Monday night, and I'm expecting a great series.As for who will win? Drumroll, please.....STANLEY CUP FINALnhl_ducks_vertlogo_46641[1].gif Anaheim vs Ottawa - Anaheim in 7
  • Right to die?

    Should Canadians have the right to get help in ending their lives?It's an easy question with no easy answer. And yet it is one many are asking themselves again in the wake of a tragic case out of Quebec.In case you missed, it, a young man has been charged with assisting the suicide of his very sick, frail and suffering uncle. The man was found hanging in his home last fall, and a lengthy investigation has now resulted in criminal charges.On my radio show last weekend, I interviewed an author/expert on the subject who strongly believes Canadians should be allowed to make the choice to die - and then receive help in doing it.However, he isn't going so far to suggest that simply anyone can aid a suicide. He believes the system should be regulated so that specific doctors will be able to do the deed.We got a lot of on-air feedback on this issue. And it's clearly not going away anytime soon as our population ages and more families face these sort of life-or-death choices.Let me know where you stand - I've put up a new jury poll at my website, 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.
  • Blame the Good Samaritan??? You've got to be kidding.

    Is it any wonder so many people don't feel inclined to get involved when they see crime happening in front of them?935t.jpgEmilia 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.
  • So now what?

    Robert Pickton has been given the maximum sentence allowed by Canadian law - life with no chance of parole for 25 years.But even the harshest critic of the justice system should be able to see that Pickton is really doing life with NO chance of parole.He's been convicted of brutally murdering six women, which makes him a serial killer. The fact he fought the allegations through trial and refused to admit any responsibility means he can never hang his hat on the "remorse" factor that often gets violent offenders out of jail.Pickton clearly has no remorse. No heart. No soul. And no chance of ever seeing the light of day again.Now here's where things get a bit complicated.Pickton still has yet to stand trial for allegedly killing 20 other women. That case is set to begin in 2009 and will likely last several months, if not longer.So what should prosecutors do?Because the sad fact is, Robert Pickton can't be punished any more than he already is, regardless of the outcome of that case.I've heard some suggest the justice department should drop the remaining counts, close the books on Pickton and use the money that would be spent on this case to help get vulnerable sex-trade workers off the streets and into programming, school, etc.But I've heard many others say a failure to prosecute would be a slap in the face to the victims, a statement that their death "didn't count".It's a tough call - and one that I'm glad I don't have to make.So what would you do? Post your thoughts below.
  • Robert Latimer

    450_cp_latimer_071205[1].jpg Were you surprised to hear Saskatchewan farmer turned convicted killer Robert Latimer was denied day parole Wednesday?I was.I figured the time Latimer has spent in prison - he's been behind bars since January 2001 - would be enough to satisfy a parole board that often seems to release offenders at the earliest opportunity.How often have we heard of violent, repeat offenders walking the streets within a heartbeat of being sent to the slammer?However, Latimer did something Wednesday that spelled doom for his immediate chances of release.He refused to say "I'm sorry".Latimer still believes he did the right thing in killing his severely disabled daughter, Tracy, and wasn't afraid to tell that to the parole board."It was a very personal thing and wasn’t a big guilt trip. I still don’t feel guilty now," Latimer said.This is a hot-button case which has clearly divided Canadians. Some people he is a cold-blooded killer who should be locked away for a very long time. Others maintain he shouldn't have served a single day for what he did.Latimer will likely get out one day - his next parole bid can be in two years - but the debate will likely rage on for much longer.I'd like to know where you stand, especially on the issue of whether he should have been granted parole.By late Wednesday night, more than 80 per cent of voters on my latest website jury poll - click HERE to vote - felt Latimer should have released.Post your thoughts below.
  • You can't make this stuff up

    True story, picked up in the halls of the downtown courthouse today...A Manitoba judge (who shall remain nameless in this post!) was recently going through her final charge to the jury by recapping the evidence and giving an outline of the law.The accused had pleaded not guilty to shooting another man during a drunken dispute.Everything was going smoothly until the judge came to the part of her instructions where she tells jurors about their options.In mentioning the accused by name, she called him "Mr. Guilty".And not just once. Moments after the first slip of the tongue, she did it again!After the charge was completed, the judge asked lawyers if there were any issues with her charge. The defence lawyer quickly rose to his feet.The red-faced judge was stunned to learn what she'd accidentally said and called jurors back to court, explaining to them they should take nothing from her verbal blunder.Ultimately, the man was found not guilty and what likely would have been a very interesting case before the Manitoba Court of Appeal was avoided.Now back to your regular programming...www.mikeoncrime.com
  • Should we have posted Mom's 911 tape?

    Got a very thought-provoking email this week in regards to the posting of Michelle Camire's 911 call to police regarding the death of her triplet son, Michael Helgason, on both the 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."
  • Crime (reporter) takes a holiday

    ON BOARD THE NORWEGIAN PEARL - They say crime doesn't take a holiday - but crime writers sometimes do.And that's where I find myself right now, enjoying the annual tropical cruise that I've been lucky enough to host for three straight years.Along with my wife Chassity, we've taken a group of 30 frigid Canadians straight into the heart of Paradise for a 10-day southern Caribbean adventure.Our journey began last Friday when we set sail from Miami and has already taken us to the Dominican Republic, the British Virgin Islands and Antigua.As I write this late Tuesday evening - sitting on the 13th deck of the ship, a warm breeze blowing across the deck and a nearly full moon lighting the sky above - we're on our way to Barbados.We'll also make a stop in St. Lucia, then turn around and spend two full days at sea abord this glorious vessel before returning home on Sunday.I'll keep the bragging to a minimum, as I realize things are a tad chilly back on the homefront this week.But I did want to point out a few highlights:1) I'm constantly amazed at the way technology keeps people connected when we're so far apart.My webiste - 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.038.JPG 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!
  • No longer perfect

    Well, it couldn't last forever.My streak of correctly predicting NHL playoff series is over, thanks to the Detroit Red Wings finishing off San Jose the other night.Still, 1112 isn't too shabby - especially for a guy like me who makes his living around police tape, not hockey tape!!So here goes, my picks for the remaining two series.Feel free to post yours below.WESTERN CONFERENCEDetroit vs Anaheim - Anaheim in 6EASTERN CONFERENCEBuffalo vs Ottawa - Buffalo in 7www.mikeoncrime.com
  • Political power play will end up in the penalty box

    As you can tell by 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.SevenHockeyPucks[1].gif 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".mcfayden-h_cp_9899613[1].jpg 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.250px-Charter[1].jpg 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?Courtroom[1].jpg 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.circus-cirque[1].jpg 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.untitled.bmp 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.

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