On May 25, 2010, exactly three years ago today, special prosecutor, Richard Peck dropped the charges against, former Attorney General, Michael Bryant, in the killing of Darcy Allan Sheppard on the night of August 31, 2009.
Since that time Michael Bryant has written a book that paints himself as a victim and hero. In the past few days Sheppard’s father, Allan Sheppard Sr. released new documents that raise troubling questions regarding the investigation led by Peck and his agent, Toronto defence lawyer, Mark Sandler.
Bryant Watch looked at the new evidence including the police reconstruction report and cross referenced this evidence with media reports of the case, the court record and information revealed in Bryant’s book to come up with a timeline of the investigation.
This timeline raises even more troubling questions regarding Peck’s decision to drop the charges and avoid a messy trial involving the former leader of his employer in this case and two other cases for which he had recently been hired. This “independent” prosecutor seemed to have quite the case load with the office for the Attorney General for Ontario.
The following is a partial timeline.
On September 1, 2009 – Michael Bryant charged with criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing death and released from custody without bail
September 1, 2009 – Bryant hires Marie Henein, another prominent member of the Toronto criminal defence bar, as his lawyer. Bryant says he and. Henein “agreed on a basic strategy within ten days of my release from jail.”(p.232)
Their strategy was to get the charges dropped and avoid a trial at all costs.
“When it came to getting charges dropped, obtaining watertight expert evidence was the linchpin. [more on this in another article later-ed]. The prosecution could drop charges only if we could present irrefutable forensic evidence from the finest experts we could find, backed up by peer-reviewed expert analysis, and bolstered by additional expert evidence surrounding it.” (p. 234)
Bryant’s and Henein’s determination to avoid court was all about public perception and his political career. It had nothing to with a strong case. How could it? They hadn’t even started to build their defence when they made this decision.
“But we knew exactly how the trial would go. Some days are good days for the defence but inevitably some are bad. In the early days the prosecution would present its case, including witnesses with perhaps damning testimony; sometimes there would be a break between the witnesses’ examination on the stand by the prosecutor and Marie’s cross-examination. If one of those breaks was at the end of the day, or before the noon-time broadcasts, then the news the next day would be the damaging assertions, only later dismantled by Marie. For those who tuned into the trial randomly, that day’s news would be all they remembered about the trial.” (p231)