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Noel O’Brien

Noel O’Brien on Corpora Delicti: The Trial of Jake Wanner – Calgary

“It is always difficult to know for sure what factual seed you plant in the mind of a jury may blossom into a reasonable doubt. I am convinced it can arise from the smallest piece of evidence, sometimes innocuous in its nature. In Mr. Wanner’s trial I took a chance that the jury may find a reasonable doubt anchored to the testimony of the expert blood spatter analyst, Sgt. Dan Rahn. .… A closer look at the crime scene photographs of the bloodied bathtub revealed a curious image. Standing untouched along the lip of the bathtub adjacent to the wall were several bottles of shampoo, body lotion, water softeners and a razor. The spattering of blood on these articles themselves and the corresponding splatters on the adjacent wall beside them, made it clear that not a single one of these items had been disturbed. Not a one had been knocked over. Sgt Rahn admitted that this was so in cross-examination. It was a question that had to be posed to the jury; how could it be possible that during the course of a murderous struggle of such a violent nature inside the small confines of a bathtub, that not one of these articles would have been disturbed or toppled over? An alternative explanation did exist; that it was a staged scene? If the jury had a doubt about this, they would be forced to acquit.”

Excerpt from Tough Crimes: True Cases by Top Canadian Criminal Lawyers
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