Is this justice?
By THERESA SHELTON
Wednesday, June 9, 2004 – Page A22
Kitchener, Ont. — Last Friday, a 12-member Superior Court jury acquitted Tyson Talbot for the murder of my son (Jury Acquits Degrassi Actor In Murder Trial — June 5).
If the justice system entrusts 12 individuals selected at random to perform the weighty task of jury duty, then it should extend that trust to allow them to weigh all relevant facts. These include the criminal history of the defendant, particularly if he is a repeat and consistent offender, as in Mr. Talbot’s case. When he committed the crime against my son, Mr. Talbot, a recidivist with 25 previous convictions, was out on bail awaiting trial on a charge of attempted murder, accused of stabbing a man who was leaving a Toronto bar. This case is pending.
This jury was sent off to deliver a fair verdict without the benefit of vital and pertinent facts relating to the defendant’s escalating, violent past. His violent convictions, in fact, were omitted from the record so as not to prejudice the jury against him. But those of us in the courtroom other than the jury were well aware of Mr. Talbot’s history. This included members of the defence team, the Crown, the media, the officiating judge and friends and family members of both the defendant and the victim.
Members of the jury who delivered the final verdict likely felt duped when they learned of Mr. Talbot’s violent history, as have countless other jury members who have served under similar circumstances.
If I had been a member of this jury, I would feel as though a cheap trick had been played on me at the expense not only of my own future peace of mind, but at the expense of many other victims.