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Wrongly convicted, David Milgaard spent 23 years in prison

Wrongly convicted, David Milgaard spent 23 years in prison

The victim of one of the worst cases of miscarriage of justice in Canada has died. David Milgaard was 69 years old. In January 1969, 16-year-old Milgaard and his friends Ron Wilson and Nichol John embarked on a trip across Canada. The three were in Saskatoon visiting their friend Albert Cadrain when a 20-year-old nursing student, Gail Miller, was found dead on a snowbank in the vicinity of the Cadrain home. David’s friends John and Wilson were coerced by police into giving false confessions. With Cadrain, John and Wilson’s testimony, Milgaard was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison on January 31, 1970, exactly a year after Miller’s murder. He was 17 years old. Milgaard later wrote of the hardships he faced in prison, where he was raped and later attempted suicide.

Milgaard’s mother Joyce, became a familiar face on Canadian media as she launched a tireless campaign to have her son freed. It took 23 years before a review of his conviction was ordered. The government of Saskatchewan decided not to proceed and Milgaard was freed in 1992. Five years later with DNA becoming a more reliable forensic tool, it was proven conclusively that a serial rapist, Larry Fisher, was the culprit. In a settlement, Saskatchewan paid Milgaard $10 Million in compensation. In the intervening years, he became an advocate for the wrongfully convicted and prisoners’ rights within the justice system, appearing on panels across the country.

The legal support organization, Innocence Canada helped, Milgaard as well as a number of other wrongly-convicted individuals.

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