MOOSE JAW, Sask. — Colin Thatcher says he’s resigned to the fact that he will always be labelled a convicted killer even though he’s made a new effort to proclaim his innocence in the murder of his ex-wife, JoAnn Wilson.
The former Saskatchewan cabinet minister, who spent 22 years behind bars, alleges in his new book, “Final Appeal: Anatomy of a Frame,” that police and prosecutors concealed evidence from his attorney during his trial and subsequent appeals.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Thatcher says the book reveals what the jury didn’t hear.
“What I’ve done is put in material that’s never appeared before, that the jury never saw, that the jury never heard from nor did any of the subsequent courts of appeal hear from either,” Thatcher says.
“What impact would it have had on a jury? Well, what I’m saying is a jury should have heard it and I’d love to go back and let a jury hear the whole picture this time.”
It was January 1983 when JoAnn Wilson was bludgeoned and shot to death in the garage of her Regina home, just steps away from the Saskatchewan legislature.
Thatcher, the son of a former Saskatchewan premier, was convicted of first-degree murder the following year.
He alleges that police and prosecutors “cherry-picked” evidence to present to the jury and “the rest of it they simply kept hidden.”
“Most of that evidence stayed hidden for a good 10 years, maybe even longer, some of it is still hidden. We don’t know the extent of what they’ve concealed. They’ve always refused any requests for disclosure,” Thatcher said in the interview Wednesday.
“They’ve still got evidence that no one outside police circles has ever seen and that evidence is largely favourable to me.”
Among other things, Thatcher writes in the book that he believes “the answers to JoAnn’s murder lay in the Wilson home.” He would not elaborate.
The book re-examines witness testimony, talks about Thatcher’s whereabouts when the murder took place and delves into the authenticity of a credit-card receipt that was found near the murder scene with Thatcher’s signature on it. The book also includes a copy of the entire transcript of a police-taped conversation between Thatcher and a man who claimed Thatcher offered him $50,000 to kill Wilson.
Regina lawyer Garrett Wilson, who wrote his own book on the Thatcher trial called “Deny, Deny, Deny,” dismisses Thatcher’s allegations.
“They’re frivolous and non-sense and hardly new, he’s been making them for 20 years,” Wilson says. “He made them all in an application to the federal Department of Justice … and they investigated them thoroughly to the nth degree and found them totally frivolous and without merit and he’s still on it.”
Thatcher, now 71, was granted early parole in 2006 and lives on the family ranch near Moose Jaw, Sask. He says he lives a “laid-back quiet life.”
His three children, Greg, Regan and Stephanie, have stood by him throughout the years. Thatcher says he wrote the book partly because his four grandchildren were asking questions.
“One of my granddaughters will often ask me, ’What happened to your wife? Tell me everything that happened.’ And I’ve never really sat down and told them the story … I didn’t think they were really old enough to handle the police business and the court business and the prison, etcetera,” Thatcher says.
“That’s one of the people that I wanted to leave this behind for.”
The 380-page book published by Toronto’s ECW Press is expected to hit store shelves Sept. 1.