Phillip Tallio hopes for bail after 36 years

The first thing Phillip Tallio wants to do if he’s released on bail next month is ride Vancouver’s SkyTrain.

It’s a wish lawyer Rachel Barsky wants to make come true for Tallio, who she believes was wrongfully convicted in 1983.

“He has a good shot,” Barsky said of the bail application scheduled for July 23.

“He doesn’t have any behavioural issues, he doesn’t have any addiction issues.”

Tallio claims he didn’t rape and kill 22-month-old Delavina Mack of Bella Coola – a Nuxalk community on the northwestern coast of British Columbia.

His application for bail comes in advance of an appeal of his conviction and sentence that could begin this fall.

Barsky said Tallio has seen some of the changes in the world firsthand on 60 escorted temporary absences from his minimum security prison without incident.

“That’s been really helpful for him.  He’s gotten exposure to the general public.”

But, she said Tallio longs for more freedom after nearly four decades behind bars.

“He really likes interacting with people outside of prison. It’s really given him confidence.”

Barsky, a volunteer case reviewer with Innocence Canada, has been working on the case since April 2011.

She said Tallio would stay in a supervised residence if he’s released on bail, and has plans to be a volunteer, attend a Vancouver Canucks hockey game, and enjoy the city’s elevated rapid transit system.

“He doesn’t have grandiose plans…he just wants to ride the skytrain.”

Barsky said three judges have agreed to hear the appeal over several months, including testimony from Tallio.

“The appeal itself should be all over in the spring of 2020,” she added.

Tallio was 17 when a lawyer entered a guilty plea on his behalf nine days into his 1983 trial.

His girlfriend gave birth to their daughter after he was arrested. That daughter, Honey Hood, visited Tallio in prison and made him a grandfather.

But she died last year. (The cause has not been made public.)

“His whole goal was to get out and develop a close relationship with Honey, and suddenly that’s taken away from him,” Barsky said in a telephone interview.

“Now he’s hoping to develop a relationship with her (three) daughters.”

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Investigative Reporter / Winnipeg

Award-winning reporter Kathleen Martens covers western and northern Canada for A veteran of the Brandon Sun, Sun Media and APTN Investigates, she is based in APTN’s head office, specializing in stories about property, women’s rights and community.