WINNIPEG – A big win for Crown attorneys at the retrial of a man accused of killing a teenage girl more than 30 years ago.
A judge ruled DNA evidence that could link Mark Grant to Candace Derksen’s murder is admissible in the trial.
The 13-year-old girl disappeared on her way home from school in November of 1984. Her body was found seven weeks later tied up inside a storage shed.
Grant was arrested in 2007 and convicted in 2011 of second-degree murder, but two years later the Manitoba Court of Appeal overturned the decision and granted a retrial.
For the bulk of the retrial, Grant’s defence lawyer has called into question the reliability of the DNA. It was found on the twine which bound Derksen’s hands and legs together.
The DNA and the lab the work from Thunder Bay-based Molecular World was repeatedly criticized by experts who testified on the defence’s behalf.
In her decision, Justice Karen Simonsen also denied a request from the defence for a stay of proceedings.
Candace’s mother Wilma Derksen spoke with reporters following the proceeding and said there is a bit of relief in the decision.
“There is a kind of relief because you just never know,” she said with a smile outside the Law Courts. “The justice system is so unpredictable.”
Closing arguments are to be heard in May, but a verdict is not expected until months later.
“I’m interested how they’re going to put it together,” Derksen said about the closing arguments. “We always get little pieces of information and they’re scattered throughout a whole trial. So the closing arguments are when the real story comes together and they connect the dots.”
Grant appeared in court with his arms and legs shackled over a black suit.