William Mullins-Johnson was wrongfully convicted in the death of his niece. In 1994 when Mullins-Johnson was twenty-two years old he was wrongfully accused of murdering his four-year-old niece, Valin. It was alleged that while babysitting her and her two siblings on the evening of June 6 1993, he sexually assaulted and killed her. The morning of June 7 1993 Mullins-Johnson sister in law found Valin’s lifeless body. Soon after, an autopsy was performed by Dr. Zehr and Dr. Charles Smith. Their findings as to how Valin had died were that she had been strangled to death between 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. on the night of June 26. This provided strong evidence against Mullins-Johnson as he had been the only adult with her at that time. The findings of the autopsy stated that Valin had been victim to chronic sexual abuse. One of the doctors said it was one of the worst cases of child sexual abuse she had seen. Mullins-Johnson became the suspected perpetrator of the sexual assaults and murder. On June 27th 1993 he was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and aggravated sexual assault. Despite what seemed to be strong evidence against him, Mullins-Johnson maintained his innocence during police interrogations. With damning expert evidence it seemed that Mullins-Johnson was responsible for the death and sexual assault of his niece. During his trial the Crown presented this expert testimony from the Charles Smith. He and testified that Valin had been abused , anally raped and then suffocated to death. The jury was convinced of Mullins-Johnson’s guilt. On September 21, 1994, he was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years. Soon after Mullins-Johnson appealed his conviction to the Ontario Court of Appeal. The court dismissed the appeal on December 19, 1996. He went on to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court of Canada, which was dismissed on May 26, 1998.
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Despite his failed appeals Mullins-Johnson went on to seek AIDWYC’s help. They assisted him by having a forensic pathologist independently review the autopsy findings. Dr. Michael Pollanen, Chief Forensic Pathologist for Ontario concluded that there was actually no evidence that Valin had ever been sexually abused or that she had even been murdered at all. Mullins-Johnson and AIDWYC filed a s. 696.1 application for ministerial review of his conviction on September 7, 2005. Mullins-Johnson was granted bail on September 21, 2005, while the Minister considered his application, after spending eleven years incarcerated for a murder and sexual assault that never occurred. His application was granted and his case was sent back to the Ontario Court of Appeal in June 2007. At this trial it was found that there was no evidence to suggest that Valin had been sexually assaulted or murdered or that that Mullins-Johnson was guilty of any crime. On October 15, 2007 Mullins-Johnson was acquitted. On October 20, 2010 Mullins Johnson was awarded $4.25 million in compensation for his wrongful conviction. The Governor General officially apologized to Mullins-Johnson and his family on behalf of the Ontario government “for the miscarriage of justice that occurred and the pain they had to endure.”
The original expert witness Charles Smith, key to Mullins-Johnson’s wrongful conviction, was eventually stripped of his medical license. Without his testimony there was no evidence against Mulllins-Johnson. On the day of his release, he said that “the last 12 years has been nothing but hell for me – and my family.”