Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Accused in killing father of 5, was previously accused of domestic-violence but charges stayed

Crown stayed domestic-violence charge in January

A man accused of killing a Winnipeg father outside his home on the weekend was released from jail Jan. 19 after prosecutors dropped an unrelated domestic-violence charge against him.
Darren James Hall, 23, who is accused of manslaughter, made a court appearance Monday in connection to the death of Garth Isfeld, 44. He remains in custody.
Isfeld died on Saturday after an early-morning confrontation outside his Stuart Avenue home where he was hosting a barbeque party for one of his five children.
Police believe he was hit over the head with a beer bottle that resulted in injuries leading to his death. Hall was charged on Sunday.
CBC News has obtained court documents showing that about two months prior to Isfeld's death, Hall was released from Manitoba's Milner Ridge Correctional Centre.
He was being held facing a charge of assault with a weapon based on a criminal complaint from his girlfriend, but the Crown elected to stay the charge against him.
The Crown's decision to drop the charge came two months after Hall was denied bail by a provincial court judge.
At the Nov. 20 bail hearing, the Crown said that Hall's girlfriend gave a statement to police alleging that he had repeatedly physically assaulted her over a four-hour period.
There was no publication ban on the hearing.
The Crown was opposed to Hall being set free pending trial.
The Crown alleged that despite the woman's efforts to flee her Maryland Street home during the attack, Hall pulled her back up a flight of stairs and threw her on a table.
She also told police her attacker used a 15-inch long plastic shoehorn as a weapon, prosecutors said.
The Crown said police officers called to the woman's home noted a number of physical injuries, including a golf-ball sized abrasion below her right ear.
In her statement to police, the woman told them that "she was extremely fearful" of Hall, the Crown told Judge Tim Preston during the hearing.
Court documents show that after being denied bail, Hall applied to have that decision reviewed by a higher court judge, saying circumstances of the case had changed.
The bail review was cancelled after the Crown stayed the charge against him on Jan. 19.
The charge was stayed on what's known as the "office docket," meaning it happened behind the scenes and not in front of a judge in a courtroom, according to provincial court records. A Crown representative said she did not recall the case but would be looking into it.

Girlfriend recants allegations

Documents show it's possible the Crown chose not to proceed with prosecution after Hall's girlfriend submitted a letter to the courts recanting her earlier statement to police.
In the handwritten, one-page document, the woman said her injuries were caused by trying to break up a booze and drug-fuelled dispute between Hall and his brother.
"Darren wasn't hitting or slapping me," the woman wrote. "If anything on my face was there, it would have been from getting in between them," she said.
"Darren is sitting in jail because by the time the cops showed up, I had so many mixed emotions … I wasn't even in my own state of mind once I was giving my statement.
"So I hope that this letter helps Darren Hall get out so he can be back at home with me," she wrote.
Under Manitoba law, prosecutors have one year to reinstate the charge against Hall.

First of all, the headline of this article, implies that this man has already served a sentence for another charge, when later in the article, they say that the charges were stayed and he was awaiting trial on another charge. 

The article fails to mention anything about the accused's background life (addictions, poverty, unemployment), that might be mitigating factors in this crime. 

By saying that this man was in prison on another charge, implies that is guilty and the public will be more likely to assume that he is guilty of this current crime, because he has already been charged with a previous crime. However, the article fails to mention that this man was never CONVICTED of that previous charge, which means he is innocent until proven guilty. Technically, he has no previous criminal record, because he was not convicted and this article portrays this man as guilty and only finds evidence to support that assumption. 

It also only discusses what the Crown's allegations were, not the defence's, which is obviously biased and disproportionate. What were the events leading up to that alleged assault? Did the girlfriend have any role in initiating it? She later recanted her earlier statement by saying that he hadn't assaulted her, but by only stating this information at the end of the article, people have already formed their opinions from the biased beginning and will not change them now. 

This article will distort the public's perception of this accused man into believing/assuming that he is guilty of this current crime, simply because he was charged with another crime. What they will likely fail to realize, is that he was never convicted and has no previous record. The article only mentions the factors that support the claim of guilt and not anything that the defence said, mitigating factors of the crime or the accused's background information.   

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