Missing Evidence

William Mullins-Johnson was convicted of killing his four-year-old niece in 1994. There were tissue samples that may have exonerated him, but those samples went missing before they could be examined. Now they’ve been found, in the office of a Toronto pathologist, raising the specter of wrongful conviction, not just for Mullins-Johnson, but in a number of other cases. Might innocent people have been convicted because of this doctor’s actions, either accidental or otherwise?

As a result of this discovery, Ontario’s Chief Coroner, Dr. Barry McLellan, will review at least 40 homicide cases in which the pathologist either performed autopsies or provided expert testimony. The Association in Defense of the Wrongfully Convicted has called for a public inquiry beyond the coroner’s review.

David Bayliss, counsel for William Mullins-Johnson, commented, “What needs to be answered here is how a system tolerated this type of medical incompetence, or medical negligence, in a systemic way. We need to make sure that nothing like this ever occurs again.”

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