FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE IN CANADA:  The Case of John C. Moore
JOHN'S CASE

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The facts of the case are fairly simple.  John was not at the scene of the crime, did not know in advance that there was going to be a crime, and did not know after the fact that a crime had been committed.  

The Crime

On the evening of the murder, John Moore was with his brother-in-law, Richard Nichols.  Mr. Nichols agreed to give two men, Mr. Gordon Stevens and Mr. Terrance Hogan a ride to downtown Sault Ste. Marie, where the two men were dropped off.  Mr. Moore and Richard Nichols went looking for parties and were seen together throughout the evening by a number of people.  At approximately 4:00 a.m. the next morning, they met the two men they had given a ride to at a house party.  Sometime between the time of their being dropped off downtown and their chance meeting at the party, Mr. Hogan and Mr. Stevens robbed and killed a cab driver, Don Lanthier.  

The First Trial

The first court case took place in 1979.  Mr. Moore was charged with first degree murder along with both Mr.. Stevens and Mr. Hogan.  What is really interesting about this is Mr. Nichols, who was with Mr. Moore for most of the evening, had all charges against him dropped.  He was the only "white man" in the quartet that was originally charged with the crime, and he was the only one let off without a trial in return for his testimony against his three co-accused.  Mr. Moore was convicted on the evidence presented against him by the Crown Attorney on the charge of second degree murder.  He won his appeal  and a new trial was ordered for September 20, 1982.  At this time he was charged with second degree murder.

The Second Trial

In the second trial, lots of information obtained from the witnesses against Mr. Moore in the first trial was denied or forgotten by the witnesses. Also,  information was disallowed by the judge of the case that had been allowed in the first trial.  For example, Officer Burns' notes from the day of the arrest were disallowed, as they had too many missing and garbled pieces to be considered as true evidence.  The three main witnesses, Mr. Nichols, Mr. Hogan and Officer Burns,  in the case against Mr. Moore basically changed their stories so much as to be almost a different story altogether.  Mr. Hogan's memory was so bad that he couldn't remember making statements even after they were read back to him.  Mr. Nichol's story was so inconsistent that the judge said, "I think what Mr. Douglas is trying to do, for our benefit, is to go over and see whether this is -- I think, under these circumstances, all of us would like to know when we were getting the straight story and when we were getting something that was deliberately left out, and when we were getting something that was a cover-up. 

 We've got so many statements, and so many stories, he seemed to me, according to the evidence that came in , he agreed to everything anybody would put to him.  It would assist all of us if we knew what he says he believes to be the truth."  This was said in regards to Mr. Nichols testimony, after he had been testifying for some time.  He changed his story from the first trial to the second so much, and so often that the Crown, the Judge and the Defense had trouble deciding whose witness he was.

The reason John was charged with murder was not because he was at the scene, which he wasn't, but rather was because the Crown Attorney had a theory.  The Crown's theory was not that John had committed the murder, but rather that he had masterminded the plan in which the cab driver was killed.  The theory was that Mr. Gordon Stevens and Mr. Terrance Hogan weren't intelligent enough to come up with the idea of robbing and killing Mr. Lanthier on their own, they needed help.  As a matter of fact, the theory was that Mr. Lanthier was killed because he was dating Mr. Stevens' ex-girlfriend. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant, as neither of  these two men put Mr. Moore at the scene of the crime on the night of the murder.  They also did not indicate that Mr. Moore was  in any way involved in the planning of the death of Mr. Lanthier.

Although there were other witnesses against Mr. Moore, these three were the main witnesses against Mr. Moore, the only ones who could say anything about what was seen, done, or said in regards to this crime.  As soon as there testimony became unbelievable, Mr. Moore and his attorney both believed they had the Crown's case beat.  Despite the judge's directions to the jury, who were all of white heritage, and despite the Crown's inability to present a case against Mr. Moore that put him at the scene or in charge of the planning of the crime, he still found himself convicted of murder for a second time.

The Appeal

Mr. Moore's appeal of his second conviction was denied all the way through the criminal justice system, and was denied a hearing by the Supreme Court of Canada. 

 

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