Unreliable testimony requires acquittal: defence

Pair's evidence 'has no credibility,' lawyers tell judge

Laura Drake, The Ottawa Citizen

Published: Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Peter Chenier and George Farley should be acquitted of the 1997 murder of Earl Joe because the case against them relies on six-year-old testimony from two men who should be considered dangerous and unreliable, according to written closing arguments by defence lawyers.

Mr. Chenier and Mr. Farley are facing their second first-

degree murder trial in the 1997 shooting death of Mr. Joe. Their 2001 convictions were overturned by the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2006 because the trial judge had not warned the jury strongly enough about relying on the testimony of the Crown's two key witnesses: André Boisclair and Danny Moore.

Since the first trial, Mr. Moore has died and Mr. Boisclair has been released from prison and was subject to a Canada-wide witness warrant for evading a subpoena to testify this time. Because neither man testified in person at this trial, the Crown tabled their testimony from the first trial as evidence.

This time around, the defence teams argued that their testimony should be completely discredited by Ontario Superior Court Justice Roydon Kealey, who will decide the accused men's fate.

"It is the defence position that the evidence of Daniel Moore and André Boisclair has no credibility and is the product of a combination of informed self-interest and police inducements," wrote Patrick McCann and Jean Legault, Mr. Chenier's defence lawyers.

The Crown's theory is that Mr. Chenier hired Mr. Boisclair and Mr. Farley to kill Mr. Joe, who was scheduled to testify against him in court five days after he was gunned down. In exchange for reduced sentences, Mr. Boisclair and Mr. Moore testified at the first trial to corroborate this theory.

In written arguments, the Crown points to Mr. Boisclair's original testimony that Mr. Farley accepted a contract to kill Mr. Joe to wipe out his drug debt to Mr. Chenier.

However, Mr. Farley's defence team argued that none of Mr. Boisclair's testimony could have been "meaningfully confirmed."

"On its best day, Boisclair's evidence is incapable of supporting a finding of guilt against Mr. George Farley," wrote Matthew Webber and Lorne Goldstein.

In their own written closing submissions, assistant Crown attorneys James Cavanagh and Kevin Phillips acknowledged that Mr. Moore and Mr. Boisclair are "disreputable and unsavoury witnesses." However, they argue such characteristics should not prevent their words from being used to convict, since they come hand-in-hand with being intimately familiar with a homicide.

"We would have loved to have been able to call Sunday School teachers and crossing guards and maybe some little old ladies from a local quilting bee," they wrote. "But those just are not the sort of people who come to be in the know about the contract killing of a witness."