DNA evidence to be allowed in retrial

Man accused of killing a teenage girl more than three decades ago

WINNIPEG — A judge says DNA evidence will be allowed at the retrial of a man accused of killing a teenage girl more than three decades ago.

Mark Grant is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 13-year-old Candace Derksen. The Winnipeg teen vanished on her way home from school in November 1984 and was found tied up and frozen to death in a shed nearly two months later.

Justice Karen Simonsen, who is hearing the case without a jury, also dismissed a defence request for a stay of proceedings.

“I am satisfied with the evidence in its entirety,” said Simonsen.

She said she will outline the reasons for her decision when she delivers her verdict.

Wilma Derksen, Candace’s mother, said she’s relieved the trial will continue.

“It’s all going to be (included) and we’re going to have a chance to do justice right,” she said outside court.

“I want our justice system to work. I want it to say who’s guilty and who isn’t, because that’s part of creating trust again in the community and safety for our children.”

The defence had argued that Grant’s charter rights were violated by police reliance on DNA evidence that experts testified was flawed. The DNA was found on the twine used to bind Derksen’s wrists and ankles.

Grant was found guilty in 2011, but that conviction was overturned on an appeal that included defence arguments that the DNA evidence linking him to the crime had been mishandled.

Six weeks into Grant’s retrial earlier this year, his lawyers suggested they were not fully able to defend him in court because all of the twine extract used for testing was used up by the lab Molecular World of Thunder Bay, Ont., during a 2007 investigation.

It was the DNA evidence that led to Grant’s arrest that year — more than 20 years after the teen’s body was discovered.

Lawyer Saul Simmonds argued that meant no independent tests could be done by defence experts.

Two internationally recognized geneticists who testified for the defence said they didn’t trust Molecular World’s tests. They described the results as “scientifically corrupt” and “fatally flawed.”

Crown attorney Brent Davidson had argued against a stay of proceedings. He said the police acted reasonably in their investigation and Grant’s charter rights weren’t violated.

Davidson told the judge the defence should have asked to re-test the pieces of twine that had been entered into court as an exhibit.

The judge requested that both sides submit written copies of their closing arguments before they are presented in court on May 11.

Shane Gibson, The Canadian Press

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