Monday, June 22, 2015

Conviction in wife's death overturned 45 years later

John Salmon's manslaughter conviction overturned - Toronto - CBC News: "John Salmon's manslaughter conviction overturned"

June 22, 2015 "A man who fought for 45 years to clear his name of a manslaughter conviction was exonerated by an Ontario court today after experts said his common-law wife's death was linked to her having suffered a stroke.

"On Monday morning, the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned John Frederick Salmon's conviction in the 1970 death of Maxine Ditchfield....

"Salmon, 75, served three years in prison. At the time, a pathologist testified Ditchfield died from brain swelling caused by a severe beating. The 30-year-old woman's body had dozens of bruises, many on her head, when she was taken from the Woodstock, Ont., home she shared with Salmon on Sept. 21, 1970. She died the next day in hospital.

"A jury found Salmon had beaten her in a drunken rage.

"But now, four forensic pathologists say her brain swelling was caused by a fall and a stroke after a night of drinking. The bruises are now believed to have been caused by repeated falls following the stroke.

"'So many of these cases of wrongful conviction result from bad pathology at the outset — where a natural cause of death is turned into a homicide,' said lawyer James Lockyer, who, together with Marie Henein, represented Salmon in court.

"Lockyer blamed the conviction on poor work by the original pathologist, who has since died, and what he described as a 'think dirty' presumption of guilt among officials of that era.

"'The science was there for him to draw the correct conclusions and he didn't. He got it wrong,' Lockyer said.

"The Crown also called for an acquittal....

"Salmon has always maintained his innocence.... [He} told reporters he did not keep track of the money he spent on his case over the years, but estimates it was about $100,000.

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