More than a decade ago, a jury in Edmonton, Alberta, found a heavy duty mechanic guilty of murdering his pregnant wife. He was 28. His wife, a hospital clerk, was one year older.
About a week after the woman vanished, her partially nude body was found alongside a dirt road, near the top of a shallow ditch. She’d lost a lot of blood after being stabbed in the neck.
Police wasted no time charging her husband with murder. The former soldier was taken to the Edmonton Remand Centre where — in an exclusive 30-minute interview — he shared with me that he was stunned anyone would think he murdered his wife. He maintained he would never harm the woman he loved.
I wasn’t there to buy into his story, nor to debate him. I was there to get a story … possibly a confession.
I was on a fishing trip.
Nobody believed the man. And that included — in the beginning anyway — his own parents in Ontario. [They don’t feel that way anymore.]
The reason the young man had no one on his side was that the police evidence was powerful.
So was the media.
Police claimed he had led searchers to the body. Detectives came to the conclusion the woman had been stabbed in the couple’s bedroom during a fight with her husband. There was also that grainy black and white video recorded overnight by a security camera on the roof of a pub … evidence police claimed incriminated their man.
Plus some very suspicious behaviour by the accused. He not only looked guilty, but pretty dumb as well.
The news media jumped on the bandwagon, reporting the couple had financial troubles — and that the accused had been court-martialed and kicked out of the military.
All damning stuff.
No one was surprised when a jury found the man guilty of 2nd-degree murder. He was sent packing to a federal prison with no chance of parole for 17 years.
Turns out, much of what the police and the media reported was not accurate.
Now, there’s blockbuster information that’s bound to raise eyebrows at the Federal Department of Justice, the department that will be looking at this case: someone has since confessed to the murder — and it’s not the man behind bars.
- A Search of the White Residence
- She’s Gone!
- Media Coverage
- Journalist Warren Henderson
- Well, He ‘Looked’ Guilty …
- … Guess He Was!
- My Time With The Accused
- Is Michael White Guilty?
- Bad Everything
- White Assaulted in Prison
- A Message For His Dead Wife
- Legal Malpractice?
- Suspicious Video Evidence
- What Happened to Video Camera #4?
- Reliable Source
- A List of Inconsistencies
- Police Search Warrant
- One Very Disappointed PI Team
- A Report Collects Dust
- More Tests? Nope.
- Private Effort Stalls
- Michael White Today
- A Tough Road To Hoe
- My Last Talk With White
The following is my account of what happened to a young Ontario man, Michael James White, who moved to Alberta in the 1990s. It’s in Edmonton where he served in the Canadian Army [tank corps] … and where he met his wife-to-be, Liana Kelly.
Michael and Liana went on dates, took in some movies, tied the knot and settled down to raise a family. All good stuff.
Neither had drug, booze or tobacco addictions. More good stuff.
Before you knew it, ‘Mikey’ and Liana weren’t watching as many movies and along came a little girl. The couple got their own house, rescued a mutt from the pound and watched their pennies.The Whites had a close circle of friends, went to parties, made trips to the Rocky Mountains, traveled out of province to visit relatives … and gave friends and neighbours a helping hand.
After interviewing a number of people who knew them well, I did not get the impression the Whites were ‘me’ people — especially the husband — who was often described as giving and thoughtful. “A big teddy bear.”
I didn’t do these interviews to look for dirt on either Michael or Liana. What I got was what I got.
Liana’s bookkeeping was professional. Every penny was accounted for. Aside from a house mortgage, Mr. and Mrs. were pretty well debt-free. Their house was clean and orderly.
The Whites were functional, not dysfunctional. No pigsty here. These two weren’t yahoos or delusionary folk. They were decent. And grounded.
A SEARCH OF THE WHITE RESIDENCE
Michael and Liana White did not have a perfect marriage, then again who does? The impression I got was that they loved each other and had a good marriage.
In the top drawer of a China cabinet in the dining area, I came across a stack of greeting cards with handwritten, heartfelt messages. Bound by a thick rubber band, the love notes were from Mike to Liana … and from Liana to Mike.
I found these while searching for evidence. I had unlimited access to the White residence because just before White’s bail was yanked, he phoned and said where I could pick up his house keys. “Byron,” he said, “search my house as much as you want, tear up the floors, look everywhere — and if you find anything that shows I murdered my wife, please do a story on it.”
It’s not every day I get a request like that.
I went through the 4-level split every weekend, sometimes with a lawyer. When the search ended, late one Sunday night, I locked the front door and walked out into the darkness — without a shred of evidence that indicated someone had been murdered there, let alone that the man in custody was the killer.
There was no blood splatter on the walls, no blood on the floor or the baseboard, no blood-soaked clothes … and no murder weapon [specifically, a serrated kitchen knife] in a secret hiding spot. Notta.
I searched everywhere for that bloody weapon. My forearm itched from removing insulation from a ceiling above a rec room in the basement.
All hell broke loose the morning Liana vanished on a warm day in July 2005. A week later, her battered body was discovered — in full view — near the top of a shallow ditch a few miles from the White residence.
The very next day her husband was taken away by police and charged with second-degree murder.
Fuelled largely by information — including misleading information from the Edmonton Police — the media went into frenzied overdrive.
Many journalists turned against the accused. They’re not supposed to do that, but they did.
A reporter in the CHED Radio newsroom remarked that Michael White had to be one of the world’s dumbest criminals. Mind you, that was a full year before his trial started. No waiting around for a jury verdict.
White, who had no previous charges of violence or any criminal record, had already been found guilty in the Court of Public Opinion … from which there is no appeal.
Liana’s homicide drew attention across the United States because it was much like a celebrated murder case in California. There, Scott Lee Peterson was found guilty of the 2002 murder of his pregnant wife, Laci.
Reporters sometimes mentioned the Peterson case in stories they did on Michael White, pointing out the similarities: missing wife / husband a suspect / husband organizes search team / husband says he loved his wife / attractive wife / wife found murdered / husband charged / husband pleads innocence. It was like a checklist.
Scott Peterson was found guilty of first-degree murder and second-degree murder in the death of his unborn son. If bullshitting had been a crime, he would have been found guilty of that too.
Scott Lee Peterson is still on death row at the State Penitentiary in San Quentin, California.
There were differences of course in the Peterson and White files, primarily with how police evidence was collected and how it was presented in court. Those who collected evidence and information in the Peterson case were never accused of spoliation of evidence and selective prosecution.
Another thing, Michael White wasn’t having affairs with other women.
Because of the similarities in the two crimes, the White murder case attracted a lot of media attention. It soon became one of the most-followed crime stories in city history.
A few months after the Greta Van Sustren interview [On The Record, FOX NEWS], I appeared on a different FOX News program, again having to do with the Michael White case. The popular American network sent a small crew from Los Angeles to produce a more in-depth feature on what was happening in Edmonton.
Their final interview was at the CHED Radio building, in the main studio upstairs, where the walls were conveniently plastered with our station logo, a subtle reminder to millions of viewers across the U.S. where the interview took place. I’m surprised I wasn’t asked to wear nothing but my CHED jacket.
The FOX producer shared that she found it odd anyone would seriously think Michael White was innocent.
JOURNALIST WARREN HENDERSON
Thank you, Warren Henderson, Assistant News Director at CHED Radio in Edmonton.
On 27 July 2005, Henderson fired off this email to staff at CHED and our three sister stations after the jailhouse interview with Michael White garnered our media company a fair amount of positive [and free] publicity.
Good for Warren for letting go with his feelings about hacks and bagmen in the news business. The respected broadcaster died of a heart attack not long after.
WELL, HE ‘LOOKED’ GUILTY …
Unfortunately for Michael White, it came across in media reports as a ‘fact’ — not a theory — that he’d led searchers to the body. Truth is, it was the Edmonton Police Search Coordinator who asked White’s search team to stop where they were looking, in the north end of town … and search a dirt road in the west end of the city instead.
The search party thought that was a bit odd because they’d checked that road just days earlier.
If it were indeed true that Michael White had directed searchers to his wife’s body, then — duh — obviously he knew where she was because he dumped her there. Those were easy dots to connect.
This police theory helped explain the overwhelming public sentiment against Michael White. Separate from that, White was indeed guilty of some bonehead moves that came back to bite him. More on that in this post.
Conflict-of-interest? A local television reporter who covered the Michael White case was married to an Edmonton Police officer. That same reporter ambushed a beleaguered White within minutes of him released on bail from the Edmonton Remand Centre, asking the accused, “Did you do it, Mike …? Did you do it? …”
Viewers weren’t informed of a conflict of interest, perceived or otherwise. Business as usual.
… GUESS HE WAS!
When Michael White went to trial, police evidence wasn’t seriously scrutinized by the defence … and the Crown didn’t mind one bit. The 12 jurors didn’t have to deliberate very long before finding him guilty. Put it this way, there was no need to order in meals. A round of coffees and juice did the trick.
Within minutes of the jury announcing ‘guilty,’ the handcuffs went on Michael White with a sound that reverberated throughout the hushed courtroom. And off to prison the ‘killer’ went to serve at least 17 years — perhaps more if he maintains his innocence.
At a quick glance, it looked like Edmonton Police were nothing short of brilliant — and the bad guy was a Forest Gump. But was that really the case?
Some, including a preacher, said that things didn’t add up. They wonder if Michael White was a victim of malicious prosecution — especially now that a confession has surfaced. The admission of murder, along with a string of irregularities as long as your arm, adds up to a ‘fail’ for the justice system.
MY TIME WITH THE ACCUSED
I did a number of news stories on Liana’s murder, which included many interviews with her husband. I even ‘hung out’ with him for a while — in the faint hope that a confession might fall in my lap.
But that never happened.
While I was trying to figure out Michael White, he was trying to figure me out. Go figure. White wondered if I was a ‘spy’ for the Edmonton Police.
If I was spying, it was for my audience at CHED Radio. I have never been an informant for the police, nor have I ever accepted money from the police.
Most of my time with Michael White was when the man was out briefly on bail [that is, after his arrest and before his trial]. After his murder conviction, I saw him several times at both the maximum security Edmonton Institution and a medium security prison near Gravenhurst, Ontario.
Someone in administration at the Edmonton Max [whose name I will not reveal] once asked, “What is it with Michael White? He’s not like other inmates …” He sure wasn’t. I explained that White had not been behind bars before, he had no prior history of violence — and that his murder trial was wonky.
Hate to disappoint those who thought this “dummy” was 100 percent guilty, but in addition to White’s trial perhaps not being above board, there’s new, damning information that suggests Liana White may have been murdered by someone else … somebody she knew well.
My source maintains that once the trial was over and White was sent to prison, an Edmonton-area woman confessed to her psychiatrist that she killed Liana. According to the source, the confession is on file in a shrink’s office in the city.
I have not seen that confession. But I believe it to be there. And I thank the person for telling me and others about it.
Edmonton Police don’t appear to be aware of the new evidence. Perhaps they don’t know about it because the information is “privileged” [top secret] — only known to those who had access to a certain child welfare file.
It’s critical information that may help spring a man who could be wrongfully convicted of murder.
IS MICHAEL WHITE GUILTY??
This is not to say definitively that Michael White is innocent — or guilty. The purpose of this post is to point out a high number of inconsistencies with his file that beg an explanation.
Was Michael White wrongfully convicted? From the information in this article — and in other media stories you may have read about Michael White — you make the call. Think of yourself as an unpaid jury member.
Read on … what you’re about to discover differs greatly from the “official version of events.” If you’re one who believes police and officers of the court are always aboveboard, the Michael White case will give you cause to reconsider.
Reporters took a police theory [“Michael White led searchers to his wife’s body”] and turned it into a fact. Just like magic. In the news business, have to admit, that’s not terribly unusual. Journalists most always take information from the police and publish or broadcast it without verification. Reporters most often trust the police.
Did you know that some reporters are huge supporters of the police — boosters, in fact. I’m not making that up. They’re known as ‘cop-suckers.’
A year before White’s trial even got underway, so-called unbiased reporters were privately calling Michael White “stupid,” “dumb” … and a “killer.”
White had no hope in Hell of getting a fair trial, especially after he chose to go with a jury. Keep in mind that Albertans once elected to the highest position in the province [Premier] an alcoholic buffoon who had a grade 9 education. The Honourable member of the Legislative Assembly would sometimes take a drink of water just to surprise his liver.
Point being: This should tell you all you need to know about the perils of jury trials in Alberta, at least.
WHITE ASSAULTED IN PRISON
Soon after Michael White arrived at the Edmonton Max, in early 2007, he was attacked and beaten by about a dozen Native prisoners. The goons weren’t captured, but their blows were — by a prison security camera.
However, White refused to press charges against his assailants, saying, “That’s the way it goes, Byron, they believe what they read in the papers.” White chose not to press charges against his assailants because he didn’t want to rock the boat. The Max was now his home and he had to “get along.”
During a meeting I had with White in the visitor’s room, he pointed out one of his assailants, who was sitting in the corner. The con was meeting with a lady friend. I briefly looked his way, the man returned the glance, then resumed holding hands with his visitor. “Well it doesn’t look like he’s gay,” I remarked,” … and between the two, they might have a full set of teeth.”
Sorry, I don’t have a lot of time for dickheads who gang up on someone alone. They’re nose-picking cowards, mommy’s boys who still piss the bed.
A MESSAGE FOR HIS DEAD WIFE
Over the past 10 years, I received many phone calls and letters from Michael White — from the Edmonton Remand Centre, his home in Edmonton, the Red Deer, Alberta, Remand Centre, the Edmonton Institution … and finally, from Fenbrook Institution near Gravenhurst, Ontario. He sure got around.
It was in 2009, shortly after White transferred to the medium security prison in Fenbrook, that I was finally able to locate his wife’s grave in a large Catholic cemetery in St. Albert, north of Edmonton. I’d been looking for it for years. [At the request of Liana’s mother, Maureen Kelly, Liana was buried under ‘Kelly.’ Maureen Kelly also instructed the cemetery not to disclose the location of her daughter’s grave.]
When White was out on parole, he spent time in the cemetery searching for his wife’s grave. I drove there one time and found him in the back-40, walking back and forth and checking out the headstones. He also went to the fresh graves. He figured if he saw them all he found Liana’s.
I mailed Michael White a photo of Liana’s grave marker. Not long after, I received an undated 3-page letter from him. Michael’s letter was addressed to Liana.
Of all those who “dropped the ball” on the White file, lawyers were by far the worst. It’s hard to describe the unprofessionalism of some in our legal profession. It was beyond disappointing.
The lawyers talked a big game, made big promises, gave reassuring smiles, spewed excuses that changed as fast as the weather — but in the end, it was nothing but talk.
White was first assured by his lawyers that the charges likely wouldn’t stick, and he bought into the lie. When his trial was over and the dust had settled, White realized he’d been duped.
The cheap talk wasn’t so cheap after all. The assurances came at a tremendous personal and financial cost to both White and his family.
When White’s mother says lawyers had them by the “short and curlies,” it’s a sad indictment of our legal community.
I’m not sure of what to make of the Law Society of Alberta, the watchdog group the public trusts to keep an eye on attorneys. Are they asleep at the switch? Are they aware the system is flawed … but they just don’t give a damn? Is that it?
SUSPICIOUS VIDEO EVIDENCE
A grainy pub video purportedly shot in the early morning hours of Liana’s disappearance shows a bald man [resembling Michael White] first driving by a pub in a vehicle, then what appears to be the same individual casually jogging on the sidewalk.
At a quick glance, the video seems legit.
That video has now been debunked by one of Canada’s top private investigators, Bruce Dunne of Calgary.
Dunne was assisted in his investigation by PI Shelly Nowell, also of Calgary — and Doctor Mark Morris of Edmonton, a respected forensics expert trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Their finding was that the video was such poor quality it was impossible to determine who was jogging. That conclusion was supported by a second forensics expert, Eugene Liscio of A12-3D Forensics in Toronto, who also examined the grainy tape. Liscio’s 16-page report was prepared in June 2011 for Edmonton criminal defence lawyer David Willson. More on Liscio’s report coming up.
Dunne, a former Calgary Police sergeant, believes the event could have been staged days after the murder. What it comes down to is that there’s no proof when the video was shot because the tape does not have a digital date stamp.
All we know for certain is that the analog recording was done overnight, when apparently no one was around. But was there? The parking lot was empty [not unusual considering the time of day] — save for one sedan pointed in the direction of the sidewalk with any occupants having a clear view of the jogger’s path. Big question: Was someone in that vehicle?
Black-and-white video recordings were shot from TWO outdoor security cameras. Both stationary [fixed] and mounted on the roof of the one-story drinking establishment, located in a strip mall, about a mile from where the White home.
One camera was pointed at the sidewalk; the second at the strip mall’s parking lot.
Video from the second camera revealed interesting information which has never been made public.
Liscio points out there could be at least one witness to the “jogger” — someone sitting in a full-size sedan parked conspicuously in the middle of the parking lot. It’s as though they were overseeing everything. Perhaps they were. Given the hour, it’s unlikely anyone was waiting for a store to open. What were they doing there?
I viewed that tape as well. So did the Dunne-Nowell team … and Marilyn Burns, the
Edmonton injury lawyer who is preparing a legal brief for the Federal Department of Justice.
According to White’s family members, they’ve been assured by Burns that her report — 7 years in the making — should be finished by 2018.
At Burns’ request, the Dunne-Newell Team prepared a comprehensive report on trial transcripts and events leading up to the Michael White trial. The Dunne-Newell report, completed in August 2012, highlights scores of police investigation and trial lawyer inconsistencies — some of which I will touch on in this article.
Here’s one: Is the mystery vehicle in the parking lot an unmarked police cruiser? “I’d bet my life on it,” Dunne says.
It gets worse. In 2012, I went around to the pub and met the owner. He shared that the east-facing camera mounted on the roof of his bar had captured the same ‘jogger’ running diagonally across the parking lot.
If that really was Michael White, for a guy on a very tight schedule he sure did a lot of unnecessary running around that morning. Perhaps he just couldn’t make up his mind about which route to take?
If it was a staged event — as PI Dunne suggests — police had a choice of whichever tape was more convincing, and the sidewalk clip won out.
When Liscio questioned the pub owner about the “jogger’s” second run, the owner then denied any knowledge of it. The convenient memory loss didn’t surprise me, not in the least. I know what I was told and what I was shown. I have a clear memory of the pub owner standing alongside me at the front door of his establishment, pointing out the route of the “jogger” as he cut across the parking lot.
This kind of stuff did not come up at White’s murder trial.
WHAT HAPPENED TO CAMERA #4?
The pub had four video cameras: two outside, two inside. The placement of the inside cameras: one was aimed at the main entry door; the other at the back door. The camera pointed at the front door was working that night … but as the Dunne-Nowell team noted, THE CAMERA POINTED AT THE BACK DOOR HAD BEEN TURNED OFF.
Why? Consider this: If the ‘jogger’ recording was a set-up, could it be that perhaps people going in and out the back door didn’t want to be photographed?? Was it an accident that camera #4 was turned off that night? Or was that intentional?
The video, recorded on an old-style VHS tape, automatically recorded on top of previous recordings. This would go on for several days, one recording on top of another, leaving a ‘ghost’ image. PIs Dunne and Nowell claim that second, third and fourth recordings on the same tape leave evidence — what they call ‘ghosting.’ According to Dunne, the VHS ‘jogger’ tape shown to the court was a fresh tape — with no sign of a previous recording. Yet the tape was supposedly put in the VCR several days earlier. That doesn’t add up.
Michael White had short hair the morning his wife vanished. He was not bald. The ‘jogger’ was. White shaved his head later that day, so when he ended up in media images — at that point, yes — he was indeed bald. Don’t ask why he shaved his head, I have no idea. If this came up at the trial about White not being bald at the time his wife disappeared, no one paid it any mind.
According to a study by the Dunne-Nowell Team and Mark Morris, it’s impossible to tell if the “jogger” and Michael White are the same person. With the help of forensics expert Mark Morris, the private investigators confirmed the grainy video showed someone to be 6-foot to 6-2. PIs Dunne, Nowell and Morris came to the conclusion that the physical appearance of the “jogger” does not fit the description of Michael White. And what has all this to do with lawyers, you ask? Simple. White’s lawyers did not question the validity of the security video tape. The Crown presented the tape as legitimate evidence.
Doctor Morris and the Dunne-Nowell Team are not alone in saying no one can tell if the “jogger” is Michael White. Here’s a portion of a report prepared by Eugene Liscio. Edmonton criminal trial Lawyer David Willson [now retired] points out that Liscio couldn’t conclude one way or the other if the jogger was Michael White. Liscio’s conclusion essentially mirrors the opinion of Doctor Mark Morris and PIs Dunne and Nowell. Here’s a portion of Liscio’s report … [for squint-free reading, click to enlarge].
The “jogger” in the video ran with relative ease. Michael White couldn’t run worth a damn after he nearly sliced off a toe while serving in the military. That was my observation — and of Doctor Morris as well. Story time: While Michael White was out on bail, I challenged him to a foot race. We were on a back road and the ‘finish line’ was the door handle of my car, parked about a block away. White got a head start. Before I could say ‘Go!’ he took off like a bat out of hell. Yet, I beat him … easily. I am no runner — but neither was White. He ran with a distinct limp, as though one leg was shorter than the other. I was in better-than-average shape, at least I like to think so — but I’m also about 30 years older than White.
I mentioned all this to his trial lawyer, and she seemed interested — so interested that she had me down on the list of witnesses to be called by the defence. That meant I could not sit in on White’s trial and see and hear what was going on. Turns out, I was not called to the stand, but I only realized that when the trial ended. Defence counsel didn’t have the courtesy to let me know that I wasn’t being called after all. It was communication by silence.
Liana White bled to death after she was stabbed repeatedly. The most damaging blow was when a large knife plunged deep in her left shoulder. All this, supposedly in the couple’s bedroom. However, the amount of blood found in the White house is minimal, perhaps enough to fill a thimble. A small amount of blood and human nasal mucus [“snot”] was found on paper towels — which Michael White claims came from Liana’s nosebleed, days earlier. It’s telling that no blood was found in any of the drains in the White residence. No offence to Michael White, but he’s not smart enough to pull off such a phenomenal clean-up, especially in such a short time.
How can there be no trace of a bloodbath in a regular-size bedroom that has laminate flooring? Where did all that blood go? Did it evaporate? If Liana was bludgeoned to death in her bedroom, as police claim, with her moving around and blood squirting everywhere, surely some blood would have found its way into the floor cracks … or seeped to the edge of the flooring, under the baseboard. But no. There was no a trace of it, just a relatively small area of the floor where luminol indicated where some blood — perhaps — had been cleaned up. If anything, the spill seemed to back up White’s story his wife had a nosebleed — certainly not bludgeoned to death.
If there’d been a bloodbath in the bedroom and it was all cleaned up, it would have been impossible for anyone to remove all the furniture, tear up the flooring, clean every bloodied board [top and underneath], and put everything back together — in minutes. Can’t be done. Superman and Batman on speed could not have done it. Police did find a small amount of blood [a drop or two] on the bed covering. Investigators cut off a small corner of that covering measuring several inches square. Conclusion: Bloodbath, my ass. There was no demand by defence counsel to have the floor boards taken up and examined.
How did the White family dog sleep through the vicious attack?? Not a sound from the mutt, and you’d think the animal would have gone nuts if the owner it loved deeply was being attacked and screaming for her life in the same bedroom where it slept, at the foot of the bed. I saw that dog — it was one hyper mutt; over-alert and skittish.
A man sleeping in a tent-trailer parked between the White residence and the neighbour’s house to the north heard squat. He did not hear any blood-curdling screams, and no dog going crazy. It was a warm July night and owing to the White residence not having air conditioning, the windows were wide open. Perhaps the gentleman in the tent trailer was a heavy sleeper, or maybe he was from Los Angeles where the screams of murder victims are common place. Nothing about the White’s dog being hyper was mentioned at the trial.
According to my source, AN OLDER WOMAN HAS SINCE CONFESSED TO HER SHRINK THAT SHE TOOK LIANA’S LIFE.
Let’s call this person ‘Alternative Suspect.’ Given the woman’s mental capacity, it’s unclear how much weight should be given to her confession. Even so, that kind of stuff just can’t be ignored. ‘Alternative Suspect’ cannot be identified owing to child-welfare privacy laws [my terminology].
I requested to see the file — but was refused. However, my source is adamant the confession is on a file at a shrink’s office.
The ‘Alternative Suspect’ has a history of violence. She once stabbed her husband [who soon became her ex] with a large kitchen knife in an unprovoked domestic dispute that turned bloody. The man’s evidence is that he came home from work, found his food dumped in the kitchen sink and asked what was going on. His wife then lunged at him with a kitchen knife. He defended himself with a chair but was still cut. Bleeding, he tried to leave to go to a clinic but his repentant wife stopped him, sitting on the floor to stop the door from opening. [“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry …”] The man bandaged himself up and kept quiet about the attack — until I located him and interviewed him in 2014 and in 2015. Fearing for his life, he slept in a separate bedroom — with a chain on the door, and a chair pushed up against the door. He also firmly believes that Michael White did not kill Liana White — and that his ex-wife did the murder. “I feel sorry for him,” he says. “I was a victim … and now he’s a victim.” The psycho also attacked others close to her, both prior to the knife assault on her husband and after. The last known assault, in Ontario, netted the loony some time in the slammer.
A 15-page affidavit was filed in Queen’s Bench of Alberta [in Edmonton] on 26 November 2014 by lawyer Marilyn A. Burns, who is also representing the brother of the ‘Alternative Suspect.’
The applicant alleges that even as a teenager, his sister [‘Alternative Suspect’] was extremely violent. [Her name has again been redacted] Note the references to knife attacks. I’ve spoken several times to the applicant and he has told me he firmly believes that his sister is Liana’s killer.
Liana was stabbed with a large kitchen knife — one with a serrated edge. That’s definitely not the kind of weapon a hood on the street would use. Another thing: whoever killed Liana obviously had the upper hand. Liana’s slashed fingertips indicate she tried in vain to fend off her attacker. Like the victim’s wedding ring, the murder weapon was never found. The brother of the ‘Alternative Suspect’ — a victim of her attacks as well — says there’s no doubt in his mind who killed Liana — and who took her wedding ring.
If Michael and Liana were arguing upstairs in the bedroom — and Michael suddenly had this urge to murder his wife — why would he run downstairs to the kitchen and look for a bread knife? I mean, if he was that angry wouldn’t he just strangle her on the spot? White was built like a football lineman. Strangling would be quicker, quieter … and no huge bloody mess to clean up.
A police theory [and media ‘fact’] was that Michael White led searchers to his wife’s body. That’s absolutely false — and very misleading. Because the misinformation was broadcast and published far and wide, hardly anyone believed White was innocent. You really can’t blame them.
Truth is, Michael White was part of a family search team of about half a dozen checking an area in the north end of Edmonton when a CITY POLICE OFFICER suggested they look instead on a certain dirt road — miles away — in west-central Edmonton. The searchers thought that was odd since that road had been checked just days earlier. But they abide by the officer’s wishes and headed out there anyway. Police know best. Well, what do you know …? There was Liana’s body — nude and lying near the top of a shallow ditch! It’s impossible no one had seen the body before because it was only 10 feet or so from the edge of the roadway. And according to those who found Liana, her body was NOT covered by branches. They said they knew it was Liana because of the dolphin tattoo on her ankle.
The startled searchers immediately called 9-1-1. It wasn’t long before police pulled up, Members of the search party were taken to the main police station downtown to give statements, then released. It wasn’t long before White was escorted to a police holding cell. Next day, detectives charged the heavy-duty mechanic with 2nd-degree murder. File the following under ‘a tad suspicious’: When the Edmonton Police ID Unit snapped photos of the crime scene, Liana’s body was suddenly covered with leafy branches. Conveniently protruding from the heap of branches were the dead woman’s feet and ankles — with a dolphin tattoo in full view. [This information didn’t come up at the trial, although there was mention that searchers had been directed to the spot by an Edmonton policeman.]
Homicide detectives continued to interrogate suspect Michael White — sometimes at the strangest hours — removing him from his cell at the Remand Centre at two and three o’clock in the morning. That unGodly hour was chosen because they knew White was half asleep and therefore, most vulnerable. White can be seen on a police video tape curled up on a small couch in an interrogation room, trying to get some shut-eye. There’s nothing unlawful about those interrogation tactics. Sleaze isn’t illegal. In media reports, the time of the interview came off as “early morning.”
If that kind of treatment — sleep deprivation — happened to a Canadian arrested in Turkey, say, people would be screaming blue murder. [There was no objection at the trial of what some would call underhanded methods by the police.]
Police also put a “plant” in White’s cell at the Remand hoping to weasel information from him. “He’s a nice guy,” an obviously naive White shared about his cellmate when I first interviewed him at the Remand Centre on a Sunday evening, just days after his arrest. White was impressed with the guy. He went on, “He even showed me pictures of his wife and kids!” I looked at White and asked, “Do you have any furniture in your cell … any plants perhaps?” White had a blank look on his face. He said nothing, but his eyes shouted what his lips feared to say: Oh shit.
Next morning, I got a phone call from an excited prisoner in Unit 2B at the Remand Centre who revealed that Edmonton Police had just been over to the Remand … and were “fucking pissed” I’d spoken to White. “You can expect a visit from the cops, Mr. Christopher,” the prisoner warned. Well, I’ll be.
Within half an hour a detective called. He wanted to know if I was available for lunch. I said sure. Hey, I was working in private radio for a few bucks over the minimum wage and someone else was buying. The detective pulled up in an old ghost car and we drove to a pizza joint on 118th Avenue, near the stadium where the Oilers play hockey. He wanted to know how I got in the Remand Centre. I joked that I had got in through a screen door at the back of the building — and there, to my surprise, was a church service with hundreds of prisoners singing hymns. “Such beautiful harmony,” I added. “I approached a big con, tapped him on his bulging biceps and inquired, ‘Excuse me, sir, but where’s Michael White? … and the gentleman replied, ‘Hush! We’re praising the Lord!’”
“That’s fucking bullshit!” blurted the cop. “Yes,” I said, “… but you like bullshit.” Like I say, City of Edmonton taxpayers picked up the tab for the meal — and for the nice car ride too. Thank you, folks.
A LIST OF INCONSISTENCIES
Police chose not to have the branches tested to help determine when they were cut or to perhaps explain why the leaves on those dead branches hadn’t shriveled up after nearly a week in the summer heat. The searcher who first spotted Liana’s body — Carol Forbes, White’s mother — is adamant that Liana’s body was not covered in branches when she found it.
At the preliminary hearing, Forbes privately made an issue out of the fact that police had tampered with evidence, expressing her concerns directly to her son’s lawyer. She says the lawyer told her “hush.” No surprise perhaps, but Mrs. Forbes did not take the stand at the murder trial.And that’s unusual. Whoever stumbles across the body of a murder victim is often the first to take the stand. Here’s a possible clue as to why Mrs. Forbes was not called to testify: Just before the trial started, White’s lawyer became a judge. Another lawyer in his firm then took over the file. Facts-of-Life #1,258: one doesn’t become a judge in Alberta if one is critical of the police. Meanwhile, Carol Forbes says she’s willing to take a lie detector to back up her claim there were NO branches on Liana’s body when they came across it, in plain view at the top of a shallow ditch.
And she challenges all police officers present that day to do the same.
Forbes predicts if they take the lie-detector and say what they’ve been saying, they’ll blow every gasket in the machine. Little or nothing was made of this by White’s lawyers. However, White’s only witness — the U.S. forensics expert — did raise at trial the fact that the branches were never tested. He pointed out that forensics experts at the University of Alberta [located in Edmonton], could have easily examined the branches to determine when they were cut.Police chose not to take soil or insect samples. Police said they already “knew” Liana’s time of death. Where did these investigators come from … Columbia? Taking samples would have helped determined how long Liana’s body had been in the ditch. From what I could tell, the grass under her body was untouched, as though she hadn’t been there very long, perhaps only hours. And if that’s the case, we know that Michael White didn’t put her there — because White was under police surveillance — 24 HOURS A DAY. [This was not brought up at the trial]
The man who jogged by right after Liana’s body was “discovered” by searchers was an out-of-uniform officer based out of the RCMP Detachment in St. Albert, a community north of Edmonton. How’s that for a coincidence? Did the officer just “happen” to be in the area — or was he there for another reason? [It would not have been difficult for a lawyer to determine that: get the officer’s timecard. Was he on-duty or off-duty? If he was working at that hour, the police have a problem. A reader of this blog, Tom Wright, points out it should be determined if the jogger’s home was within a reasonable distance.]
More on Liana’s remains: Liana’s nude corpse was not devoured by wildlife scavengers. That doesn’t make any sense at all. Yet, the remains of a full-grown deer that had been poached and gutted close by had been devoured — bones and all, mind you — in just days by hungry scavengers, presumably coyotes. Likewise, several pounds of frozen meat — wrapped tightly in an old shirt and spiked in the ground near where Liana’s remains were discovered — vanished in only two days. Hmmm … so over the course of a week, comparatively little happens to Liana’s remains? How the hell does that happen?
During his brief time out on bail, Michael White was trying to determine the number of coyotes in the area. I recall seeing names and phone numbers for wildlife people in his notepad. He said he had put in calls, but I don’t know what became of his queries. His defence team didn’t seem the least interested in this.
According to Carol Forbes, Liana’s ponytail had been sliced off, left dangling on a branch nearby. How could a big clump of her hair still be resting on a branch for a week?? Was the air that still for so long? Could it be that the body was only there a few hours or so?
Another point: why would a killer spend precious time cutting and collecting branches when they could have hidden the body in the forest, just a few feet away? No one — not even Forrest Gump — is that stupid. [this was not raised at trial.]
The footprint of whoever dumped Liana’s body in the ditch did NOT belong to Michael White. Different size. Was White dumb enough to waste 20 or 30 minutes cutting branches and placing them on the body [in full view of those in cars traveling the dirt road], yet brilliant enough to wear shoes a different size than his? [the different shoe size was mentioned at the trial, but no mention of how long it would have taken Michael White to collect the branches.]
Back to the volume of traffic on that dirt road … over the course of a week, several hundred cars would have traveled that small, gravel road — and owing to the poor condition of the road they would not have been going too fast. I sat in the ditch for two hours one morning looking for Liana’s missing wedding ring [did not find it] and collecting strands of her hair [found plenty]. While I was in the ditch, wearing dark clothes that camouflaged me, two vehicles — a pickup truck and a sedan — stopped. The drivers, both male, wanted to know what I was up to. It’s hard to believe that hundreds of people spotted Liana’s body and decided “not to get involved” and drove on. [“Hi Honey, how was your day at work?” “Same old … hey, you know, they still haven’t removed the body of that dead woman … it’s still lying at the top of the ditch!”] Sorry, I can’t see that happening — even in Iraq.
Not one strand of Liana’s long hair had been pulled out by the root [by animals], giving credence to Mrs. Forbes’ claim her ponytail had been sliced off.
Phony blood stains in the back of Liana’s SUV: A most peculiar thing about Michael White’s preliminary hearing is that his lawyer [the one about to become a judge] did not request the standard publication ban on evidence. As a result, reporters had a field day filing stories about Crown evidence at the hearing, whether it was legit or not. One ditty that made the news was that a Luminol chemical test indicated blood in the back of Liana’s SUV. Ooooo … pretty incriminating stuff. The Crown held this up as proof that White had transported his wife’s battered and bloodied body in the back of her SUV. Turns out, it wasn’t blood after all — only rust and copper flakes from Michael White’s tools and his work clothes. Rust and copper flakes react positively to Luminol.
Luminal also reacts positively to human urine and to animal urine, both of which would have been found in the Whites’ bedroom and hallway because the couple had a small child and a dog. At the trial, the Crown tried to make the case that Luminol indicated a trail of blood drops leading from the bedroom to the front door. I spent many hours at the White residence. Maybe I need glasses because I sure didn’t notice that — and I spent many hours in that house. Perhaps Michael White did another phenomenal clean-up job.
The supposed DNA blood samples were examined by someone with an MBA in Biology and Science, who said the “samples” weren’t really blood. The Crown Prosecutor didn’t call the expert as a witness — nor did White’s lawyer, strange enough. Instead, as PI Bruce Dunne points out, the only testimony in that regard was from an Edmonton Police Ident officer— who took the stand and told a jury it was blood. Good enough, I guess. [White’s lawyer didn’t challenge any of that evidence.]
According to PI Bruce Dunne, during White’s murder trial the Crown prosecutor gave the judge a gift: a 600-page somewhat restricted Military book [to help her deal with allegations of improper conduct by White in the military]. Dunne says, at that point, the defence should have called a mistrial — but said nothing.
There was a public uproar that Michael White had been released on bail, which happened weeks after his arrest. Such was the impact of media coverage of Liana’s death and the fact her husband had been charged with 2nd-degree murder … you know, the dummy who led searchers to her body. A woman who lived on the same street as Michael and Liana took up a petition to have Michael White’s bail revoked.
The loaded wording on the petition wasn’t that White had been charged with the murder — it was that he, in fact, had killed Liana. Thousands of people signed the petition, which was then handed over to the local Tory MLA [member of the Alberta Legislative Assembly] who then held a news conference at his constituency office. There, he showed reporters the petition, which he was forwarding to Ottawa. I pointed out to the MLA that the wording on the petition convicts Michael White. His response? “I’m sure Ottawa will work that out.” Smugness, with a smile. The MLA was turfed from office — as was his unpopular government — in the 2015 provincial election.
I share that story to illustrate the influence of the media. CHED Radio was the only media outlet to point out the wording of the petition.
Michael White’s bail was revoked, even though he had abided by all the conditions of his release. Police would sometimes knock on his door at two in the morning to make sure he was home. Dressed in PJ’s and scratching his head, White would say, “What’s up?” and the officer would say, “Just checking.” The process would repeat itself every few days. It could have been worse … could have been someone peddling the Watchtower.
After White was convicted and sent packing to a federal prison, his trial lawyer phoned him to advise that his appeal period was up — that same day. Call that ‘Eleventh-hour Due Diligence.’ Lucky for Michael White, he had hired a different lawyer to do up his appeal submission papers, and she got things ready in time. Otherwise, White would have been screwed.
The trial lawyer also broke the sad news to White that the only defence witness at his trial [besides himself] was Doctor Jon Nordby — a U.S. forensics expert who appeared by video-link, owning to his cancer — had died. White was shocked. So was I when I phoned the expert’s office. Well. Turns out, Nordby was still alive … and still testifying at trials! The BS about his death could have been an attempt to keep White from pursuing the matter, who knows. Nordby was adamant that Michael White did not get a fair trial. He went on to say he [meaning himself] wasn’t given nearly enough time to properly prepare his case, pointing out that the defence waited until the trial started to get a court order to get material to show to Nordby.
Nordby later expressed concern that White didn’t get proper legal representation. No shit. Nine years ago, I phoned White’s trial lawyer and left a message for her to call me. She still hasn’t done that. Maybe she thinks I’m dead too. By the way, the man who rose from the dead is still working and appearing at trials.
White offered to take a polygraph, but his lawyers told him it wasn’t necessary. And so, no “truth-verifier” — as the cops sometimes call it — was given. This did not come up at trial, but a number of people have suggested that if White was truly innocent, why didn’t he take a lie detector?
When Michael White was interviewed by Edmonton’s CTV outlet, just days after his wife vanished, he did not come across as sincere. Some said the husband looked “guilty.” I didn’t see the clip, but a number of people — including a defence lawyer who was not connected to the file — told me that Michael White looked as though he was hiding something. I questioned White about that. His explanation was that he wondered if Liana had left him and returned to her home in Kelowna, British Columbia. White said it didn’t make sense she’d do something like that. And it didn’t make sense to him why Liana would abandon their young daughter, Ashley. [nothing like this was brought up at the trial.]
Were Edmonton Police wrong to suspect Michael White? No. Spouses of missing people are always suspects, and so they should be. It’s because a high percentage of spouses are indeed involved. Police had good reason to suspect White was Liana’s killer. Just days after Liana disappeared, he tossed garbage bags in a field — bags containing paper towels with blood on them. How could any reasonable person not suspect White could be the killer when he behaved like that — and with evidence that was so incriminating? One would have to be brain-dead not to think he should be a suspect.
Where a line is crossed is when police are so convinced of someone’s guilt that tampering with evidence justifies an end. Did that happen? It’s worth looking into. As the PI Dunne-Nowell team puts it, White was a liar and a thief — but he wasn’t a killer.
There’s something very odd about the outside surveillance tape from the YMCA, located next to a field where Liana’s Ford SUV was abandoned. The video shows Liana’s vehicle parked in a large sports field, but it doesn’t show anyone leaving it. I don’t know if the tape was rolling or not rolling when the vehicle pulled up. Wouldn’t a viewing of the entire tape, or the preceding tape possibly determine if Michael White walked away from the SUV? Wouldn’t the tape reveal if the driver was male or female? Why wouldn’t something like this been produced as evidence? Are police that incompetent? If there was a tape recording of Liana’s vehicle arriving and someone exiting the vehicle and walking away — who in their right mind would ignore this evidence? They’d have to be one of two things: 1] beyond stupid or 2] corrupt. This was not brought up at trial.
“For whatever strange reason, the police purportedly only reviewed the video tape beginning at 6:00 am when the building opened for business. Surely, you would expect them to view the whole thing because it was on all night. There should have been a video of the vehicle arriving in the parking lot and someone getting out of it. The driver’s door was left open and items from the vehicle were strewn about the parking lot beside the vehicle.” — PI Dunne-Nowell Team
It’s worth nothing that ‘Alternative Suspect′ lived only a short distance away — as in walking distance — from where Liana’s SUV was found. She lived in a nearly straight line from where the vehicle was abandoned.
A pack of smokes was left behind in Liana’s abandoned SUV. Neither Michael nor Liana smoked, but ‘Alternative Suspect’ did. It’s too bad police didn’t know about ‘Alternative Suspect.’ They could have determined the brand of cigarettes she smoked.
At times, Michael White was his own worst enemy. The military had disciplined White for taking home tools to work on his vehicle. [Global TV News reported that White had been kicked out of the military for this, but that wasn’t true.] After his wife disappeared, White went out and retrieved garbage bags containing her blood, then placed the bags on his own driveway for pick-up. It’s fair to say that most people would say that’s how a guilty person would behave. [on that point, PI Dunne says police grabbing those bags without a warrant was an “illegal seizure.”] that And White initially told police he thought Liana left the house between 6 and 6-thirty in the morning. That’s not true, as her vehicle was spotted in a field near the YMCA as early as 5:45 am. He collected money from neighbours to dispose of their garbage in the dump, but threw the bags in a field and kept the money.
Edmonton Police went after me with a search warrant because of my work on the Liana White murder case. I met briefly with the judge [Peter Caffaro] who signed it and I said, “Did you sign that?” He said, “Oh, was that what it was?” [Click to enlarge]
POLICE SEARCH WARRANT
After his conviction for 2nd Degree Murder, Michael White came close to dying in his cell at the Edmonton Remand Centre. His throat was slashed, leaving a gaping wound that required many stitches. There are two theories as to what happened that night: a] White tried to take his own life … or b] someone tried to knock him off. White’s recollection is that a man got into his [locked] cell in the middle of the night, sat on his chest, pinning him down while he was sleeping, attacked him, he passed out and woke up with everything around him soaked in blood.
The official version is that White tried to kill himself. What’s interesting is that no knife or sharp object was found. How could guards not find the weapon? It’s not like White tossed the knife out the window and someone made off with it, or he flushed it down the toilet.
The only thing that makes sense is that his attacker walked out with the weapon. On that point, prisoners say that not all “suicides” in prison — especially hangings — are suicides. We never hear the victim’s version of events because dead men tell no tales.
Michael White would likely be a free man now if he’d accepted the Crown’s offer of manslaughter in early 2006, but he was adamant then — as he is today — that he did not kill his wife.
Put another way, if White had “played the game” he’d be on a tractor today at his parent’s farm in Ontario.
ONE VERY DISAPPOINTED PI TEAM
A lot was made by police [and subsequently by the news media] that when Liana’s SUV was located, the driver’s seat was back further than she would have had it, and that some items were strewn about, as though the driver went through the trouble of making it look as though Liana’s car had been stolen.
In an email, the PI Dunne-Nowell team commented on that plus the spoliation of evidence by police …
“It was the Ident officer who got into the vehicle, moved the seat back and drove the vehicle onto the deck of the tow truck BEFORE it had been examined for fingerprints and DNA samples. Once the vehicle was in the Ident garage, they had a young female officer get into the driver’s seat and they took a photo to show that she couldn’t reach the brake pedal etc., so it must have been a larger person driving the thing into the parking lot. The young female officer was smaller, slim and not pregnant. Liana was four months pregnant, taller and heavier than the female officer. That photo was shown to the jury and not challenged by the defence counsel.
“In addition, the Ident officer never told anyone he had moved the seat back and had started the vehicle, then drove it onto the tow truck deck, thus destroying any potential fingerprints, or DNA, on the ignition key or the steering wheel.
“In fact, the Ident officer did find some fingerprints on the passenger side window and the top of the driver’s side window, but they were never identified. They didn’t belong to Michael White, Lianna White, or their daughter.
“Liana’s cell phone was found on the ground beside the vehicle. The Ident officer picked it up and turned it on. Thus once again destroying any fingerprints and/or DNA. In addition, the police never “dumped” the contents of her cell phone to see who might have called or who had been called, from the phone.
“In addition, this was originally phoned into the police as a “suspicious auto” complaint. Yet, the major crimes unit was involved as early as 10:00 am the very same day and had their mobile command bus set up in the parking lot. How bloody often have the police ever acted that quickly on a “missing persons” complaint. In fact, the original car crew who were sent to the parking lot viewed it as a potential stolen vehicle. They got the registered owner’s address, took the keys out of the ignition and went to the White residence and used the key to open the front door and search the house. No warrant. No signs of struggle, and no blood. They then returned to the parking lot and put the keys back into the ignition where they were found by the Ident officer. Later that same afternoon two Detectives actually took a missing persons report from Michael. On every other missing persons, they always wait for 48 hours before even doing any cursory inquiries.
“I was told from a source that it was shortly after the original car crew had been to the White residence and had called several places — including Liana’s mother and Liana’s place of work — that the police got an anonymous call saying that Liana had been murdered.”
“Just total fucking incompetence.” [Bruce Dunne]
The respected PI would soon discover that the incompetence wasn’t restricted to police.
A VITAL REPORT COLLECTS DUST
Only a small portion of the findings of the Dunne-Nowell PI Report has been included in this article.
Clearly, a LOT of work went into the 2012 report … and it’s shameful to think it has been collecting dust for so long.
In August 2012, copies of PI Dunne-Nowell’s reports [comprising three separate binders] were presented to Edmonton lawyer Marilyn Burns. I received one set, Burns retained a set … and the Forbes family in Ontario received two of the three binders, including the large one.
PI Dunne pointed out that it took him and PI Nowell 325 hours to complete the report.
The private venture has been stalled for more than four years, with dust literally collecting on the binders — causing PI Dunne to rightly ask: Why the delay? Numerous times I have asked Burns the same question. The explanations change, but so far none has made any sense to me.
I don’t understand it — and I’m not alone. White’s family, PIs Dunne and Nowell also wonder what’s going on. When I last spoke with Burns on this matter — in late 2015 — I said I would respond to an email she’d sent a year earlier. Her response was that she would delete it without reading it. I countered that I would bring a hard copy to her office. Her response was that she would rip it up and throw it in the garbage.
PI Dunne feels that Michael White could be a free man today if his family and Marilyn Burns had acted on the recommendations in his report.
A frustrated Dunne asks, “Did they even read my report …?” Good question. And an embarrassing one.
The Dunne-Nowell report speaks well of those who those who produced the comprehensive document. Unfortunately, it also says a lot about those who let it collect dust for nearly five years … which in turn speaks of Michael White’s future.
After the extensive Dunne-Nowell report, the meetings, the phone calls … and the time and money expended — and we’re talking more than half a decade — I do not believe that Michael White is one step closer to getting out since the day he was convicted.
As of February 2017, Bruce Dunne was semi-retired and temporarily living in British Columbia.
MORE TESTS? NOPE.
In the spring of 2015, Michael White’s lawyer contacted forensics expert Eugene Liscio in Toronto [see above] to fly to Edmonton for additional camera testing and measuring at Richard’s Pub.
According to Liscio, Marilyn Burns wanted him to rewrite his report. The plan was to have Michael White’s family pay about $5,000 for this.
However, the manager of Richard’s Pub said no one would be welcomed on the premises for testing. She threatened to call the police if anyone showed up.
It’s a moot point since the cameras and equipment at the pub have all been changed — which is exactly what an exasperated Bruce Dunne pointed out when he heard that Liscio was on his way out to Edmonton to essentially redo his work from three years earlier. Can’t blame the PI for blowing his stack.
According to a retired lawyer, any change by Liscio of his report would likely result in Liscio’s credibility being attacked in court. His words were more along the lines of “What are they thinking …???”
In the end, Liscio decided against flying to Edmonton to conduct further forensics testing on the White file. He said he didn’t need the money.
PRIVATE EFFORT STALLS
Michael White shared with me on the phone in January 2015 — and again when I met him at the prison in June 2015 — that he was deeply disappointed and frustrated with a private effort working on his behalf to get him out.
A small group was gathering material for a brief to be presented to the Federal Department of Justice — step one for White if he’s to be exonerated — and compensated.
The project has been mysteriously stalled for three years.
According to White, lawyer Marilyn Burns — who plans to present the submission to Ottawa — assures White that she will get him out. White appeared hopeful, yet cautious. At least the man has hope — and not everyone professing their innocence has that.
Shortly after I returned to Edmonton, White contacted me by telephone with words that [quoting lawyer Burns again], that she would need a further three years to prepare her submission. According to White, his lawyer assured him he’d be out by 2018.
White sounded discouraged and confused after calling his lawyer hoping to get a timeline … a set time when things would be done. Instead, he got a deadline. “I’m going to have to write out my questions before I call,” he said.
On 14 April 2016, I received a surprise email from Carol Forbes, mother of Michael White, who had previously said she had faith that lawyer Marilyn Burns could do the job — even if it took seven years to do it. I said at the time, “Get yourself another lawyer. How many broken promises do you need?” The message to Mrs. Forbes may have gotten through. Her email simply read, “You might have been right!!!!! sorry pal.”
On 20 April 2016, I forwarded to lawyer Marilyn Burns Carol Forbes’ comments. There was no response.
Michael White revealed the thought of having to wait an extra three years had him thinking about dealing instead with Innocence Canada.
However, White seemed to take it in stride that little had been done in three years and he’d have to wait a further three years.
I tell you this to also illustrate why prisoners in White’s position have serious doubts about our criminal justice system. The wheels of Justice move slow at the best of times, but when a conviction is suspicious, those wheels are not only gathering dust but rust as well.
Could it be that the ‘powers-to-be’ want fewer proven wrongful convictions? The more wrongful convictions, the more people there are who don’t believe in the system. It’s not good PR when citizens regard our judicial system as nothing more than a crap shoot.
Win Wahrer, head of Innocence Canada — who has met with Michael White a number of times at the prison near Gravenhurst — said she’d gladly take on White’s file.
MICHAEL WHITE TODAY
Until Michael White’s file is reviewed by the Federal Department of Justice, he may be stuck in the Beaver Creek Institution [minimum security] near Gravenhurst, Ontario … about two hours’ drive north of Toronto.
Canada has far too many wrongful murder convictions — and mind you, those are just the proven screw-ups, those acknowledged by the Federal Department of Justice. Is it just me, or does the government seems to be more interested in protecting the image of the system than those who have been screwed? Lord only knows how many innocent people have died behind bars — or, how many languish there today.
On Saturday, 20th of June 2015, I spent more than four hours with inmate Michael White at the Beaver Creek prison. White had lost so much weight that I didn’t recognize the guy when guards escorted him to the visitor’s room. He looked great, actually. Since I’ve known White [we’re going back to the summer of 2005, within days of his wife’s body being discovered], he’d always been pudgy.
White seemed relaxed.
An ‘executive summary’ of my meeting with Michael White was that he still maintained his innocence, held his own in the joint, seemed to be accepted and respected by cons and staff in the visitor’s room; he was grateful I made the effort to see him; when he shook my hand he looked me in the eye, he answered my questions [and by that I mean, no obstructionist responses such as ‘ducking’ and ‘diving.’], he talked a lot about his daughter, Ashley, and how he missed his wife. He asked that I work on finding a certain someone [the ‘Alternative Suspect’] … and to pass on his regards to certain people.
Other than that, the only thing unusual with the visit was that it was the first time I had to stand at attention while a police dog checked me out, including sniffing my legs and … well, never mind. I burst out laughing because, shit, it was funny. “No laughing please,” said the dog-handler.
20 YEARS AGO …
Here is a 1996 photo of Michael White when he lived at his parents’ farm near Wiarton, Ontario. The youngster is ready for his high school prom — and he’s dressed to the nine’s.
The farm boy now wears a prisoner’s uniform, but the question is: for how long?
Michael’s mother, Carol Forbes, fears that by the time a report is submitted her son might be eligible for parole.
Thumbs up to the Law Society for an excellent job of monitoring lawyers.
Michael White’s guest at the prom was supposed to be Andrea [Overbeek] Mays, but Andrea had a boyfriend. Michael White thought him seeing her might hurt her relationship with her boyfriend, so he bowed out, telling his escort he didn’t want to make any trouble for her.Mays said the Michael White she knew was thoughtful, and that he had a lot of class as well.
Mays contacted me by email after reading my story on White on another website, Last Link on The Left.
The national marketing manager of Mackie Research Capital Corporation in Toronto said she was shocked to hear that White was found guilty of murder. Mays said she never believed — “not for a second” — that the young man she knew had murdered someone.
According to Mays, White was raised with “good country values,” adding, “his brothers were the exact same way. Everyone liked them.”
“Mike was very polite,” she says, “he held the car door open, ‘yes sir, no ma’am’.” He was very much a gentleman, never pushing anyone to take a certain point of view. He was the kind of guy every girl wanted to have as a friend because he was never threatening. And he never swore.”
Mays also described Michael White as a “bit naive.” “He took things at face value,” she says, ” … and he trusted people.”
In the summer of 2015, Mays said she’d be writing White … but several months later, that hadn’t happened.
The last four or five phone messages to Mays have not been returned, in spite of a recorded message that assured callers they would be.
A TOUGH ROW TO HOE
It appears that those fighting for Michael White’s freedom have their work cut out for them. David Willson, the veteran criminal defence lawyer, called it a tough standard. He described the White file as a “Mt. Everest of shit.”
In Willson’s opinion, two key things must be done [with a caution about a third].
- thoroughly debunk existence evidence …
- build a solid case against the ‘Alternative Suspect’ …
- if it’s alleged that police tampered or played with the evidence, Federal Justice may be “really hesitant” to grant a new hearing.
I’m not trained in legal matters, but it’s my read that preparing a proper clemency is neither easy — nor quick.
My last conversations with Willson about the White file were along this line … “What’s new with the Michael White case? I haven’t read anything lately about him getting out …”
MY LAST TALK WITH WHITE …
Have been on the phone. Michael White must call me as I cannot put in calls to him. I’m not his lawyer.
We last spoke on Saturday afternoon, November 14th. He said his mother didn’t know what was going on with his case, and neither did he.
White criticized me for not finding experts who could help him. I told him that wasn’t my job and said, and what about you? “Well, what can I do in here …?”
My message is this: When dealing with the Canadian criminal justice system — police, lawyers and the court system — you’re rolling the dice. Forget what you’ve learned in school or what police, the media or lawyers have told you about our judicial system, how fair it is and all that. The bottom line, it’s a roll of the dice.
Perhaps you’ll find justice, but maybe you won’t.
Beware of lawyers who talk a big game, police officers who don’t value integrity and stenographers disguised as reporters.
For a sensational, real-life drama of an ugly wrongful conviction case in the United States, go this story by Jethro Nededog of Tech Insider. It’s an excellent overview of the key elements of the STEVEN EMERY case as documented by the popular Netflix series, Making a Murderer.
KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT THE WHITE CASE?
If you have evidence or information on the Liana White homicide you feel I should know, call the author at 780.716.4693 … or email: click here
More on the David Milgaard case can be found here … his story is about half way down the post.