Federal justice minister orders new trial for First Nations men convicted of 1970s Winnipeg murder

new trial

Federal Justice Minister David Lametti has ordered a new trial for two First Nations men from Manitoba who were convicted of the 1973 murder of Ting Fong Chan.

Brian Anderson and Allan Woodhouse were convicted in 1974 and sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 10 years.

“The Minister has determined that there is a reasonable basis to conclude that a miscarriage of justice likely occurred,” said a statement from Lametti’s office. “This is the result of the identification of new information that was not before the courts at the time of Mr. Anderson and Mr. Woodhouse’s trials or appeals.

“The Minister’s decision to order a new trial is not a decision about the guilt or innocence of the applicants. It is a decision to return the matter to the courts where the relevant legal issues may be determined according to the law.”

Anderson in a 2021 photo at a conference in Winnipeg. Photo: APTN.

Chan, a 40-year-old chef, endured a brutal beating and was left for dead in downtown Winnipeg.

Both Anderson and Woodhouse appealed their convictions but the Manitoba Court of Appeal turned them down. Anderson later applied to the Supreme Court to review the case but was denied.

Anderson applied for a ministerial review in 2019; Woodhouse did the same in 2020.

“These two young men were the victims of systemic racism,” said a statement from the Innocence Project, an organization made up of lawyers who review convictions and examine cases for possible miscarriages of justice. “Today, they take a giant step on their road to vindication. Minister David Lametti has recognized the injustice wreaked on them decades ago and exercised the greatest power he has under the Criminal Code.

“Their story is one of remarkable courage and perseverance.  They have never wavered in their quest to prove their innocence.”

Anderson was released on parole in 1987 and Woodhouse wouldn’t be released until 1990.

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‘There is something wrong here’: Indigenous man wrongfully convicted of murder tells his story 

The Innocence Project is also handling the case of Odelia and Nerissa Quewezance from Keeseekoose First Nation in Saskatchewan. The sisters were convicted of second-degree murder in 1994 and have spent 30 years in prison while maintaining they are innocent.

They are on bail while their case undergoes a conviction review by Lametti’s office.

On Feb. 16, 2023, Lametti introduced an amendment to the Criminal Code to establish an independent commission to “review, investigate, and decide which criminal cases should be returned to the justice system due to a potential miscarriage of justice.”

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