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.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Just because a jury convicted three men, does not mean they are definitely guilty of the crime..

Accomplice to appeal
The three men convicted in the 2006 stabbing death of 24-year-old Red River College student Minh Hong Huynh were all handed prison terms Monday, with one already planning to appeal.
Glen Monkman, 39, was convicted by a jury last month of second-degree murder for fatally stabbing Huynh outside the former Main Street bar Club Desire on April 30, 2006. Carlos Tavares, 30, and Norris Ponce, 31, were convicted by the same jurors of manslaughter for their roles in the crime, which the Crown said involved “encouraging and assisting” Monkman.
Justice Brenda Keyser sentenced all three to jail time Monday.
Monkman was handed an automatic life sentence, as are all offenders convicted of murder. He will not be eligible for parole for 12 years, which is part way between the Crown’s suggestion of 15 and the defence’s preference of the minimum 10. Keyser heard the sentencing arguments earlier this month.
Tavares was given a seven-year sentence, minus two years for time served, leaving five to go.
Ponce got a four-year sentence minus two years for time served. Both of their sentences fell between the terms suggested by the Crown and defence at the sentencing hearing.
Tavares told the gallery as he was leaving court Monday that he hopes to appeal. He did not say whether he intends to appeal his conviction or his sentence.
During the trial earlier this year, court heard the accused believed Huynh had previously stabbed Tavares at a wedding social.
Tavares’ cousin Danny Simao testified the men had plotted to go to Club Desire and attack Huynh when they learned he was there the night of the fatal stabbing. Jurors heard evidence Huynh was on steroids and high on cocaine when he started picking fights with several people outside the nightclub, including a man believed to be Ponce. Witnesses said that’s when Monkman intervened and stabbed Huynh in the face and chest.
The 24-year-old later died from his wounds.

I am definitely seeing some bias in this article. First of all, the title says "accomplice to appeal," when it should say "alleged." Just because a jury convicted this man, does make him 100% guilty as I feel that the Crown did not prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Second, "for their roles in the crime," also implies that these men definitely HAD roles in the crime, when they may not have. Again, just because 12 people "agree" that they did, does not mean it's 100% true.

This article only states the Crown's opinion that these men were "encouraging and assisting Monkman." Nowhere, does it state what the Defence lawyers argued, which is also important information, in order for a reader to make an informed opinion. 

The article talks about what Simao testified but does present any of the counter arguments made by Defence lawyers, which is biased. There were countless contradictions and inconsistencies in his testimony and defence argued that he was unreliable and 100% untrustworthy. This should have been mentioned. 

The article also does not include any background information on the three accused and how the sentence will greatly impact their families. They are victims also. All of these men have families and children and they showed remorse. 

Three sentenced in stabbing death 
Three men were convicted of killing a Winnipeg student outside a downtown bar, but they left court Monday with vastly different sentences for their roles in the 2006 attack.
Glen Monkman, 39, was given a mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 12 years after being found guilty by a jury last month of second-degree murder.
Carlos Tavares, 31, received five years in prison in addition to one year of time already spent in custody. Norris Ponce, 31, was given two years in jail, in addition to one year of time served. Both men were convicted of manslaughter.
All three accused had originally been charged with first-degree murder.
Ming Hong Huynh, 24, was knifed outside Club Desire on Bannatyne Avenue in April 2006.
Monkman admitted stabbing Huynh four times in the chest and cheek with a small knife while horrified bystanders watched, but claimed he should only be found guilty of manslaughter based on the fact he was provoked.
Ponce was accused of distracting Huynh on the street before the stabbing. Tavares was accused of driving the getaway vehicle. Lawyers for both had argued there was no credible evidence linking them to the attack.
The key issue at trial was whether the jury believed the testimony of the Crown's star witness, Danny Simao, who claims he overheard a plan to kill Huynh while inside a car with the three accused. Defence lawyers argued at trial that Simao was a proven liar.
The Crown argued the accused planned the attack as revenge for another stabbing that happened at a wedding social in March 2006.
Before the attack, court heard Huynh was wandering around shirtless outside the club. His girlfriend, Angie Pfeifer, testified Huynh used steroids and cocaine. The Red River College business administration student was intoxicated and looking to fight anyone who crossed his path, she said.

The headline is biased in this article. It says "three sentenced in stabbing death" which implies that all three men were involved in the death, when really, that may not be the case. 
It also does elaborate on the contradictions and inconsistencies in Simao's testimony and only presents the Crown's opinion. 
In the beginning it says, ".. the their roles in the 2006 attack" which also implies that they are all guilty of playing a role, when that may not be true. Just because a jury convicts, does make it a definite fact. That is the author's opinion that they all played a role. 

As I said in my previous blog posts, I completely disagree with the verdicts first of all. How can a jury convict, when the key witness is unreliable and untrustworthy? I figure that some of them must have conformed to the dominant position of the group, because I don't see how any reasonable person could believe anything he said. Ponce and Tavares should have been acquitted. 

I also disagree with the sentences of Ponce and Tavares. Ponce has a wife and two children to support. I believe 100% that he was not involved in this and did play any role. He told me specifically that he was afraid and nervous of being wrongfully convicted. Guess what? He was. Ponce had been on bail for at least a year prior to the trial and followed all of his conditions. This shows that the Judge should have considered all other alternatives before imprisonment, as stated in the Criminal Code, and realized that prison was not the least restrictive sanction. I believe that a conditional sentence of 2 years should have been imposed. 

I also disagree with Tavares' sentence of 5 years. I also believe that he had no role in this attack and should also have been sentenced to a conditional sentence.  

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