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Claims innocence in murder

UPDATE: 6:30 p.m.

A prisoner who has proclaimed his innocence in the 1994 murder of his common-law wife in British Columbia should be released on bail while the federal government reviews his case as a potential miscarriage of justice, a defence lawyer says.

Wade Skiffington was convicted of second-degree murder in 2001 and sentenced to life without parole eligibility for 13 years.

Philip Campbell told a B.C. Supreme Court judge Thursday that parole was denied to his client primarily because he refused to take prison programs that could be seen as an admission of guilt.

"For at least the past four years his claim of innocence has cost him dearly," Campbell said, adding his client is not a danger to the public.

"Should this man be held in penitentiary during the review or allowed to live with his family on conditions," said Campbell, who is with the group Innocence Canada, which works to exonerate people believed to have been wrongfully convicted.

He noted Crown counsel Hank Reiner said during submissions earlier Thursday that Skiffington's case is not frivolous.

"Accordingly, if you find these arguments to be non-frivolous, as the law defines that term, I say you should grant bail to Mr. Skiffington," Campbell told Justice Michael Tammen.

The federal justice minister is reviewing the conviction after an appeal by defence lawyers with Innocence Canada, which is also challenging the credibility of the undercover sting, saying police extracted a false confession.

Tamara Duncan, a lawyer with Innocence Canada, said outside the court that Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has a number of options if she concludes a miscarriage of justice occurred, including ordering a new trial or sending the case to the B.C. Court of Appeal.


ORIGINAL: 2:40 p.m.

A Crown lawyer arguing against the bail release of a man already convicted of killing his common-law wife in British Columbia says Wade Skiffington had a 20-minute window of opportunity to commit the crime.

Hank Reiner told B.C. Supreme Court that Skiffington went to an apartment in Richmond in September 1994, knowing the friend who Wanda Martin was visiting would be out briefly.

Skiffington was found guilty of second-degree murder in 2001 based on a confession he provided to undercover police as part of a so-called Mr. Big operation that began five years after the murder.

The federal justice minister is reviewing the conviction after an appeal by defence lawyers with Innocence Canada, which works to exonerate people believed to have been wrongfully convicted.

Skiffington's lawyers want him to be released on bail while the review is underway, likely for years, and are challenging the credibility of the undercover sting, which they say extracted a false confession.

Court has heard Martin was shot six times and the couple's young son was left with his mother's body.



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