Crown rejects judicial stay in Baltovich case

Canadian Press

Wednesday, Sep 29, 2004

Toronto — Crown lawyers rejected the notion of a judicial stay for convicted murderer Robert Baltovich Wednesday, suggesting the defence didn't make a case to justify such a move.

A three-judge panel hearing the appeal of Mr. Baltovich's 1992 conviction of the second-degree murder of girlfriend Elizabeth Bain had asked the Crown on Tuesday to consider such a stay.

But Crown lawyer John Corelli said Wednesday that no snap decisions should be made in the matter of a judicial stay, calling it one of the most “Draconian” remedies known to law.

He added that the manner in which the defence raised the issue of a stay is “prejudicial” to the Crown's case and noted that no formal application for a stay had been submitted to the court.

“We still don't know what the basis for the stay is,” Mr. Corelli said. He said the defence did not make clear why a stay should be considered.

And if a stay of conviction is considered, Mr. Corelli told court, the Crown would prefer to have the power to grant it. A retrial would not be allowed under a judicial stay, while one granted by the Crown could see a case retried within one year.

Ms. Bain vanished from a campus of the University of Toronto in June 1990. Although her body was never found, Mr. Baltovich was convicted in 1992 of second-degree murder.

He spent eight years in prison and was released on bail in 2000 to await his appeal, in which the defence focused on fresh evidence and notorious sex-killer Paul Bernardo as a possible suspect.

The Crown argued earlier that it's completely unreasonable to believe Mr. Bernardo murdered Ms. Bain. As such, there was no reason for the jury to hear evidence related to Mr. Bernardo, who was terrorizing Toronto's east end at the time as the still-unidentified Scarborough rapist, at Mr. Baltovich's trial.

“There is a real risk that if the evidence was admitted at trial, it would have induced in the minds of the jury sentiments of revulsion and condemnation,” the Crown states in a written factum.

The appeal hearing was expected to conclude Wednesday.