New Mr. Big ruling in Nova Scotia case

What is important here is that the Canada Supreme Court Ruling is having the effect of affirming the right of suspects not to incriminate themselves. At least that if they unwittingly do so then further evidence is necessary to convict them.

Mr. Big ruling prompts withdrawal of murder charge in Rhonda Wilson case

Albert Baird was accused of killing his former partner

CBC News Posted: Sep 24, 2014 10:36 AM AT Last Updated: Sep 24, 2014 5:18 PM AT

Rhonda Wilson was 31 years old when she left her Kentville, N.S., home to go for a walk in August 2002. She was living with Albert Baird and her three children at the time. Baird was charged with murder in May but the charge has been dropped, following the recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling about Mr. Big stings. (CBC)Rhonda Wilson was 31 years old when she left her Kentville, N.S., home to go for a walk in August 2002. She was living with Albert Baird and her three children at the time. Baird was charged with murder in May but the charge has been dropped, following the recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling about Mr. Big stings. (CBC)

The first-degree murder charge against a Nova Scotia man accused of killing his former partner has been withdrawn after Canada’s top court severely limited the kind of Mr. Big sting that had been used in his case.

The Crown said there’s no reasonable prospect of a conviction against Albert Rex Baird, in light of the recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling on such stings.

However, Crown prosecutor Bob Morrison said the investigation is still active.

“I would say Mr. Baird is still a suspect and I don’t think the investigation is ending just because of this today,” he said.

Rhonda Wilson, a mother of three, disappeared in May 2002. Her body has not been found.

Baird, 45, was charged with first-degree murder in May.

Mr. Big operations involve police posing as criminals in an attempt to obtain a confession from a suspect. Until 2008, the tactic had been used at least 350 times to try to solve cold murder cases, the court heard.

The RCMP have said 95 per cent of the resulting prosecutions had ended in convictions.

The Supreme Court ruled the Mr. Big technique can induce unreliable confessions.

The ruling places strict limits on how police can use the technique, and a greater burden on the Crown before information obtained in a Mr. Big operation can be used in a trial.

Marc Patry of St. Mary’s University in Halifax is an expert on the Mr. Big technique.  He says the Baird case isn’t the only one affected by the Supreme Court ruling and predicted fewer uses of the technique in the future.

“They’ll be much more cautious, I think, because the bar is higher, I think, in order to get that testimony in,” he said. “So, I believe it will be used somewhat more sparingly and perhaps they’ll be more careful about when they employ it.”

Police would not confirm the exact relationship between Wilson and Baird, but friends of Baird said he was Wilson’s common-law husband.

11-year mystery

Wilson was 31 years old when she left her Kentville home to go for a walk in August 2002. She was living with Baird and her three children at the time, but was never heard from again.

Police said search crews focused on Bains Road, about one kilometre from an old pig farm in the Annapolis Valley, the focus of weeks of searching last spring.

Wilson’s case was added to the major unsolved crimes list in April 2010. Police said they received many tips after that announcement, but they did not contribute to Baird’s arrest.

The province said there has been no activity on Wilson’s bank accounts since she disappeared.

Pre-trial examination establishing fundamentalist link in Rafay murder

It is said that “possession is nine tenths of the law”. My experience tells me that belief is nine tenths of the law.The judge in the Burns/Rafay trial disallowed the use of evidence pointing to alternative suspects in the case. I have contended that he was prejudiced (in the classic sense of the word) against Sebastian Burns and Atif Rafay and that his decisions are a reflection of his prejudice. I believe that he wanted them to be guilty because he “knew” they were guilty. Below is a pre-trial examination of Detective Thompson by Jeff Robinson, the lawyer for Sebastian Burns. An FBI informant, Douglas Muhammad, gave the police what should have been a reasonable suspicion that the Rafay family was murdered by an extreme sect of Muslim fundamentalists. None of what you read here was allowed into the trial but, even more significantly, despite the police being given telephone contacts and specific names, the leads were never investigated. The evils of ‘tunnel vision’ were never better on display than right here.

Robinson: I want to move to a different topic now.  Do you recall several days after the homicides being approached by and interviewing a man named Douglas Mohammed?
Thompson:    Yes.
Q:    I can show you a report to help with the dates.  I’m going to show you this, which is a copy from Detective Gomes’ police reports.  July 18 is the date at the top of that page.  Is that right?
A:    Yes, it is.
Q:    And then if you turn to the next page, is there an indication that along about 2:45 in the afternoon you and
Q:    Detective Gomes interviewed Douglas Mohammed?
A:    Yes.
Q:    And Mr. Mohammed gave you an address and phone number to contact him, didn’t he?
A:    Yes.
Q:    And he told you that he was Egyptian?
A:    Yes.
Q:    And he told you that he was affiliated with some FBI agents?
A:    Yes.
Q:    He then described a concern he had about, that might relate to the Rafay homicides.  Is that right?
A:    Yes.
Q:    And he told you that there were different factions in the Muslim community?
A:    Yes.
Q:    Both in Seattle and in Vancouver, British Columbia?
A:    Yes.
Q:    And he told you that one of these factions was headed by a particular man, whose name and address he gave you.  Is that right?
A:    Yes.
Q:    And he told you that this man preached that those that did not accept his translation of the Koran should be killed?
A:    Yes.
Q:    And he told you that this man’s interpretation of the Koran was an extremely violent one?
A:    Yes.
Q:    He told you that this man owned a gas station and he gave you the location of that gas station?
A:    Yes.
Q:    And he told you about several other people that were in this man’s group let’s call it?
A:    Yes, he did.
Q:    And he told you that on the Friday after the homicides, one of these men that was in this group came to his house and appeared to be very nervous and frightened?
A:    Yes.
Q:    And he indicated that this man who was nervous and frightened was asking whether he, Mr. Mohammed, remembered a baseball bat that had been carried around by group members in a car.  Do you recall that?
A:    Can you give me a second just to read through this on the baseball bat issue?
Q:    Yes, absolutely.
A:    Yes, I do recall that.
Q:    And he was saying that he thought the baseball bat could have been the murder weapon?
A:    Yes.
Q:    On August 2,——
COURT:    Go over that again.  He told of this baseball bat being where?  I lost that.
A:    He had come to the police department and said there’s some people he knew that carried a, basically carried a baseball bat in their car.
Q:    And that the man who came to his house that was a member of the group we’ve described was nervous and frightened and was asking him, Mr. Mohammed, like hey, do you remember that baseball bat we were carrying around?
A:    Yes.
Q:    So a person in the group that Mr. Mohammed suspected might be involved in the homicides was asking Mr. Mohammed about a baseball bat?
A:    That’s correct.
Q:    And on August 2nd of 1994, on or about that date, do you recall applying for the return of search warrant to be sealed by a district court judge?
A:    I do recall having a search warrant sealed.
Q:    And it was after July 18, wasn’t it?
A:    I don’t remember.  Well, yes, counselor, it would be after July 18.
Q:    And one of the things you said in the request to seal that search warrant is that there was evidence that was outlined in the warrant return that only the investigating detectives or the killers would know?
A:    Yes.
Q:    And one of the things you placed into that category only the investigating detectives or the killers would know was the fact that the murder weapon might have been a baseball bat?
A:    Yes.
Q:    And Douglas Mohammed was talking about a baseball bat before that information had ever been released to anybody in the public.  Am I right?
A:    Yes.
Q:    And Mr. Mohammed went further and told you that this group leader had actually made a specific threatening statement about Mr. Tariq Rafay, didn’t he?
A:    Yes.
Q:    He said that this man had indicated that Tariq Rafay should be killed because of Mr. Tariq Rafay’s interpretation of the Koran?
A:    Yes.
Q:    Detective Gomes obviously prepared this report some time after July 18?
A:    Yes.
Q:    It was in your file when the RCMP came down in March and February of ’95?
A:    Yes.
Q:    And by the way, you did confirm that Douglas Mohammed was actually an informant for the FBI, didn’t you?
A:    Yes.

Okay, so why was the defense of a fundamentalist “hit” disallowed? Judge Mertel said the theory did not fall under the normal “rules of evidence”. In addition, the date was 2003, only two years past 9/11 and the wounds were still raw. The year of the murder was 1994; I presume that Mertel must have felt that such things didn’t happen until 9/11 and that the use of this defense would be prejudicial. Of course, religious violence is not exclusive to any one religion or sect. The Spanish Inquisition meted out gruesome punishments for apostasy; I need not go any further into history because I think what I am saying here is self-evident. The extreme violence meted out to the Rafay family was not, we contend, the work of Sebastian Burns and Atif Rafay.

Tariq Rafay was a civil engineer and the head of the Canadian Pakistani Friendship Association before moving to Bellevue, Washington. He had proven that the mosques in Canada were not facing Mecca, and were thus erroneously situated. He was considered to be an apostate Muslim. The man who took his place in Canada was shot dead in front of his home during the Burns/Rafay trial. Can all of this be ignored…legitimately ignored? Only if you believe in your mind that the two teens were guilty, and you wanted to make sure the jury saw it that way.