Dean Christopher Roberts during his trial in Nelson in 1995. Townsman file photo.

Judge dismisses DNA request in Cranbrook triple murder case

Dean Christopher Roberts must appeal directly to the federal Minister of Justice, reads ruling.

A Cranbrook man convicted of murdering his wife and two children nearly 25 years ago has lost his bid to the B.C. Supreme Court to have DNA evidence released for forensic testing

However, the ruling from Justice Arne Silverman shifted the responsibility of evidence disclosure to the federal government, and notes that an application must be made directly to the Minister of Justice.

Dean Christopher Roberts had petitioned the court for access to DNA evidence that went untested as part of a triple murder case in Cranbrook in 1994. In order to apply for a ministerial review, Roberts needs new and significant evidence to present within his application.

READ: Petition requests DNA evidence in 1994 murders

Justice Silverman determined Roberts was asking the wrong question in his petition, noting that instead of asking whether the Minister will order DNA testing, Roberts needed to determine whether DNA that was not available for testing during his original trial is deemed a new matter of significance.

“That is a decision for the Minister, as is the question of what she considers relevant in making that decision,” Justice Silverman wrote. “It is inappropriate for this Court to offer advice as to what examinations or testing the Minister should or should not carry out during that process, or what the ultimate conclusion of her inquiry should or should not be.”

Last year, Roberts applied for the release of evidence used to convict him in 1995 in order to build a case for a ministerial review.

Following his trial, Roberts was found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder for the deaths of his wife and two children. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole eligibility for 25 years.

An appeal of his conviction was dismissed in 1997.

Triple murder case shakes Cranbrook

The convictions stemmed from a house fire that occurred in July 1994.

Roberts’ wife was discovered in the master bedroom, however, an autopsy revealed her death was caused by strangulation.

Two of the boys were rescued by neighbours and firefighters; however, one died several days later.

Additionally, two days after the house fire, the body of another son was found up in what is now known as the Community Forest. An autopsy revealed his cause of death was also by strangulation.

During the trial, Roberts testified he was at a friends house when the fire broke out.

Roberts, who confessed to the murders in a ‘Mr. Big’ operation, later recanted and claimed his innocence, noting there was no physical or forensic evidence linking him to the murders.

Roberts launched his petition seeking the release of evidence for DNA testing last March, asking the Crown for numerous items that include a cigarette butt, hair and fibre samples, rope, along with the entire RCMP biology case file.

Roberts intends to make an application for a ministerial review on the grounds of miscarriage of justice, which means he needs to present fresh exculpatory evidence, according to his application.

However, Roberts argued that he cannot present new evidence that would need to be included in his application for a ministerial review without first having forensic testing of the evidence.

Justice Silverman determined in Roberts’ case that it is solely the determination of the Minister of Justice to order that untested DNA evidence be forensically examined.

“The process set out in the [Canadian Criminal] Code for Ministerial review, is available to the petitioner,” Justice Silverman wrote. “Part of that process permits the Minister to order DNA testing in circumstances where she considers it appropriate to do so.”

Just Posted

Surrey councillor defends SOGI 123 stance after resigning from AutismBC

Laurie Guerra stands by her opposition to SOGI 123 resource as backlash over meeting comes to a head

PHOTOS: Hockey history in Surrey as Team India comes to play

Squad played its very first game in Canada on Tuesday against Surrey Falcons

Proposed coal project for Fraser Surrey Docks back in court

It could be months before the federal appeal court renders a decision

Minor injuries for firefighter struck outside South Surrey fire hall

Minor injuries for firefighter struck outside South Surrey fire hall

Surrey to hear news on Olympic softball qualifier bid next week

Decision, originally expected in September, was delayed by World Baseball Softball Confederation

VIDEO: Amazon to split second HQ between New York, Virginia

Official decision expected later Tuesday to end competition between North American cities to win bid and its promise of 50,000 jobs

Kuhnhackl scores 2 odd goals as Isles dump Canucks 5-2

Vancouver drops second game in two nights

Fear of constitutional crisis escalates in U.S.; Canadians can relate

Some say President Donald Trump is leading the U.S. towards a crisis

B.C.-based pot producer Tilray reports revenue surge, net loss

Company remains excited about ‘robust’ cannabis industry

Canada stands pat on Saudi arms sales, even after hearing Khashoggi tape

Khashoggi’s death at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul further strained Riyadh’s already difficult relationship with Ottawa

Feds pledge money for young scientists, but funding for in-house research slips

Canada’s spending on science is up almost 10 per cent since the Liberals took office, but spending on in-house research is actually down

Stink at B.C. school prompts complaints of headaches, nausea

Smell at Abbotsford school comes from unauthorized composting operation

Disabled boy has ‘forgiven’ bullies who walked on him in stream, mom says

A Cape Breton teen who has cerebral palsy was told to lie in a stream as other kids walked over him

Vancouver man must pay $22,000 after breaking strata rules

Peter Gordon took his fight over his rented condo to the civil resolution tribunal, but lost

Most Read