Monday, December 11, 2006

Stoddard Online


R E G I N A

VS

C O F F I N



PERCE, QUEBEC


The month is July. The year is 1954. The place is Perce, on the Gaspe' Peninsula. The province of Quebec is about to embark upon what will become the most costly criminal proceeding against an individual since confederation. The past dozen months has been nothing short of an uphill battle attaining the necessary courage to proceed to the court room.

Premier Maurice Duplessis and the government are in a quandary and they know it. Win or lose they are going to look bad. If the crown wins, the government will be viewed as a bunch of tyrants by a huge majority of the Quebec population. A win however, will get the federal government off their backs.

On the other hand, if they lose this case, they will be viewed as a bunch of blundering idiots by that same population, because the people would be of the view that while the government wasted time on this prosecution, the real perpetrator of the crime was allowed to escape justice, and the wrath of St. Laurent and the boys from Ottawa would be monumental. This scenario would be created because the government of Quebec chose to not pursue any course of action other than that against the accused, in this case, Wilbert Coffin.

The delay in going to trial was simply because the prosecution was running scared. There were no eye witnesses, there was no murder weapon, there was no bullets or fragments, there were no spent cartridge cases, and most importantly, there was no confession from the accused.

The Quebec justice ministry had worked on building a circumstantial evidence case throughout the past year. This would be their only glimmer of hope. It did not matter whether or not the jury members believed the circumstantial evidence. What mattered here was whether the jury members could be coersed into bringing in a guilty verdict.

There are two ways in life to be number one in the selling game. The first of course is having the best product which will generate sales leadership with little or no effort. The second is having an inferior product, but complimented by an effective sales team. It also helps tremendously if the opposition team is headed by a drunken buffoon lacking leadership and creativity.

Very definitely, the crown would go into this case with the inferior product. They knew this. They would however, compensate with the best oratorical skills available in the province. They took stock, they studied the area, and they did their homework. They were determined that even though they were going into this trial with the weakest of case against a popular area resident, they would come out with a convicted murderer ready for the gallows.

In a top priority case such as that before the court it would be standard procedure for the attorney general of the province to delegate the Superior Court judge to hear the proceeding. In the case of the province of Quebec during this period of history, the premier of the province had appointed himself to also hold the office of attorney general. Therefore it came back to premier Maurice Duplessis to control the strings. The defendant, Wilbert Coffin was now a doomed man.

Upon consultation with his solicitor general for the province, Antoine Rivard, Duplessis would name Judge G. Lacroix to hear the case at Perce, Quebec. The trial date having been set for July, it was now time to get down to the business of selecting a jury to get the trial in motion.

From the onset, it would be apparent that Wilbert Coffin was going to experience stormy seas. It was indeed going to be a rough ride. Even though justice fell under a slightly different set of rules prior to our constitution of 1982, certain aspects were the same, namely innocence until proven guilty, and jury selection in the language of the accused. A new set of rules would emerge in this trial for jury selection as you are soon to see.

It is interesting to note, that even though Wilbert Coffin had requested an all English jury to correspond with his native language, the pool of prospective jurors did not reflect that decision. During the selection process Judge Lacroix would declare that it would be a mixed language jury. There would be six English speaking, and there would be six French speaking. The excuse rendered for this was simply that they could not find a total of twelve all English prospective jurors.

In reality, that would be a lame excuse because the trial could simply be moved to a venue that could accommadate the language barrier. What should have happened here of course was for Wilbert Coffin's lawyer, Raymond Maher to spring to action. Did he do that? No, he did not. He sat there like a dazed dummy and watched as the machine rolled over his client. The trial would be conducted as the judge declared it would be, with no dissenting opinion.

The prosecution team in this trial would leave no stone unturned. There was no room for error. If they were going to hang Wilbert Coffin, it had to be a planned, well orchestrated chain of events, and they absolutely must maintain control of the trial.

The prosecution duties would be shared by top guns Paul Michelon, Noel Dorion, and a host of lesser names. In stark contrast, the defense side of the courtroom severely lacked the finesse, and expertise associated with the prosecution. Raymond Maher was the man at the top, assisted by Francois Gravel who had no experience, and former judge Louis Dorion.

Judge Lacroix enters the courtroom. The standard announcement is made for all to rise in respect. The judge sits down, and the clerk reads out the charge of first degree murder against the accused. The trial of Regina vs Coffin has now begun. . .

If one takes the time to read the transcript of this trial, you may be inclined to suggest the first day was a total waste of time. Throughout this day, you will read of the praise that the prosecutors lay onto each other. The praise that they extend to the judge could make a well person vomit. As if all this is not enough, they now start praising the defense lawyer as well as assistant Louis Dorion. Francois Gravel who has virtually no experience even gets honourable recognition. The judge gets into the act and hands out some praise of his own. They point out their political alliances, where they have crossed paths, their families backgrounds and anything else to show respect for each other.

Do not be fooled by the above love-in. That was all part of the calculated rounded out ploy that I wrote about earlier. Sure it was sickening to read, and I imagine even more sickening to sit and listen to, but it was done for a purpose. It was designed and delivered for one reason, and one reason alone. It would influence a jury. By including the judge and the defense, it would play a role in gaining the support of a juror, because don't forget, these jurors were simple everyday working folk suddenly thrust into the limelight to sit on a jury. If they all praised each other, any statement that the jury heard must certainly be the truth and have the support of the others in the team, therefore it must be right for the jury to accept. This is what manipulation is all about.

With the court now getting ready to go, it is important to consider where all this was taking place. True, it was in the courthouse at Perce, Quebec. There was one main courtroom in the building, and it was bursting at the seams with people clamoring for seating. The temperature is stifling. It is in the middle of July. There is no air conditioning. There is a jury retirement room off to the side for deliberations. The washroom is located in this jury room. This was also the room that defense lawyer Raymond Maher would visit on occasion, and return with the stench of alcohol on his breath. Very definitely, this was not your average criminal trial in a modern courthouse in downtown wherever.

Lew Stoddard
December 11, 2006

I invite you to join me in two days as the crown outlines it's case and commences with the producing of the evidence that will be used against Wilbert Coffin. The next two postings are very important. This is where deceit and manipulation will reign supreme, and it is where you, the armchair jurist, can place yourself in a jury chair at the trial and reach a verdict on what is presented.

37 comments:

Darla McIntyre said...

Wow, you do such a stirring introduction to the trial that it maks one feel that they are there in the courtroom as well. You can almost see the walls. Yoiuy are a great story teller.

I think the next part will get very interesting as you really get into what happens I think now.

Darla McIntyre
Summerside, PEI

Jane Lewers said...

I guess that I had no idea that the trial scene would be quite as you portray. Maybe I watch too much TV. I guess I think too much about Matlock and Perry mason. You are right, not quite the same as modern day, big town or city court scenes.

I will say one thing, you do a good job on your story. You would have made a much better lawyer for W. Coffin than what he had.

Keep up the good work on the case. I was just made aware of your site a month ago, am still refreshing myself with your story. Merry Chriatmas to you.

Jane Lewers
Calgary, Alberta

Barb Whitten said...

I sincerely like your style of writing. I am studying journalism at present time. You have great short story abilities. You are easy to understand and it is strongly written, yet sensitive where it needs to be.

This murder case that you work on appears to be most difficult to write but you do write it well.

Barb Whitten
Campbell River, B C

Anonymous said...

Another great piece written by Lew, again you have shown how in-depth your research has been. I agree that you make one feel that they are in the courtroom.

Look forward to the next posting in a couple of days time.

AW in NZ

Dave M said...

It would appear that the trial was rotten from the start considering the jury selection process with the language barrier. Why should that not have halted the trial? I think it should have. That doesn't seem like a very fair trial to me.

Dave M
Sydney, Nova Scotia

Joyce said...

You always seem to find a way to put a less than desirable lean on everything? Why do you do that? You never seem willing to accept things the way they are, and because of that, you appear never satisfied. History is history whether you like it or not, and you cannot change what is already history, so why not back off Sir?

Joyce
Bristol, New Brunswick

Carolyn G said...

I know that what you write here regarding this trial is accurate as I have read about it in the past, although not in as much depth. It was bad I do admit.

I just hope and pray that we have come past these sorts of antics in our country. That is terrible when our court system is rotten to the core, and it looks like it was back then, in Quebec anyway. I am sure there were bad examples in other parts of Canada as well, but wherever, there is no room for it.

Good luck Sir in doing your best to expose this junk and hopefully set the record straight for Wilbert Coffin who cannot speak out for himself.

Carolyn G
Fredericton, New Brunswick

Catherine M said...

Here it is Christmas time approaching. Peace and tranquility should be veiling the world. It is in such a mess and all man made. My heart is with the Coffin family especially at this time of year. It may have been decades ago, but the wound will never heal. Never ever have we thought that Mr. Coffin did that terrible deed. It has to be made right.

It is good to see the work that you are doing. You put in a grand effort on this. Merry Christmas to you and yours Lew.

Catherine M
Truro, Nova scotia

h lemieux said...

Bonjour

You do the good story about Mr Coffin. he not guilty i am so sure.you fix this for his family ok.

Merci
H Lemieux in montreal

D Hoffmann said...

Heading home to Germany today to feast on Moms Christmas cooking. My wife and I read your site, didnt know anything about this case until we stumbled over your page a few months back. Good reading Sir, we are both school teachers in your country, it is a beautiful country. Deserves to be fought long and hard for as you display.

I shall keep up to date in Bremen via the internet. Merry Christmas to you.

D Hoffmann
Toronto

Anonymous said...

For Joyce,
Maybe if these things happened to you and one of your family you would have another opinion. I think it's about time, someone put a right to this injustice. What happened back then affected alot of people THEY NEED CLOSURE for the wrong that was done. Keep up the good work Lew. Debbie S

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"For Joyce,
Maybe if these things happened to you and one of your family you would have another opinion."

I really can't understand people who express sentiments such as put forth by Joyce. I often wonder if it may be because they have a relative who was involved ( in a negative way ) and are ashamed to admit it and just want the whole thing to vanish.

Beryl Watkins said...

I was just reading the Gaspe website. I had no idea this case was reaching those boundaries Mr. Stoddard. For you Sir I say in capital letters, "GOOD LUCK" You are to be commended and this puts a whole new slant on this case in many ways.

Truly you have put a huge effort into this behind the scenes here amid much foolish controversy from people who have no real direction in life. I am sure the Coffin family will be very glad to learn all this. Merry Christmas Lew!

Beryl Watkins

Bill and Norma Ross said...

Interesting news that you have posted on the GoGaspe site regarding this case. People never think about the two who were also killed and no one charged.

I am encouraged in a big way when you state that Wilbert Coffin does not emerge as a suspect in young Fred's death. That certainly puts a black cloud on his conviction for Richard. I have always felt that you will achieve your goal.

I share your thoughts on the big media on all this, too much rehashing of the old stuff, with little or no effort on what counts now which is the new relevations. Keep at it Sir.

We have close relatives in the Gaspe and we know this is important to their community, as it should be to the rest of Canada as well

Bill and Norma Ross

Anonymous said...

WOW WOW! Things happening now. Things going to warm up a lot more. I can see that now. Interesting turn, that message on the Gaspe web site. The police had better take a good hard and long look at it now. Here is their chance to prove that they are not the same as the police of the 50's.

Anonymous in Gaspe

Connie C said...

I have always been interested to know, how do the families in the USA view this case? Were they satisfied, and will you be contacting relatives of Frederick Claar regarding this current chain of events?

Connie C
Niagara Falls

G Mitchell said...

For those who may not understand the last few posts, see the posting by Lew on
gogaspe.com

Lew, I understand that thetre is no statute of limitations on murder in Canada but to have the case reopened on these grounds, wouldn't one have to first prove that a murder has been committed ?
Is that possible after all these years ?

Although the case has always been referred to as the 'the murders of three American hunters' there was only one charge of murder. Could the courts / government not just say that the others died of natural causes?

Lew Stoddard said...

SPECIAL MESSAGE TO ALL READERS OF THIS SITE:
As I have mentioned in the past, there appears to be some reluctance for the bigger media to report certain current developments in the Wilbert Coffin case.

As this event took place in the Gaspe' I sense a responsibility to keep the good folks there up to date first. In my view, the larger media outlets appear to neglect some of the key elements that I have identified on this site.

This morning, I took the unusual step and submitted an announcement to the GoGaspe site, which they were kind enough to publish. I will now share the contents of that announcement with the rest of Canada. The following is the announcement as it appears on their site. . . .

Wilbert Coffin Case Update

My name is Lew Stoddard. Most of the readers of this site are aware of the fact that I have been investigating the Wilbert Coffin case for the past nine months. It has been a long and bumpy road, full of twists and turns. I am pleased to report that the road has now become much smoother.

As a result of that investigation, I wish to inform folks of a few things pertaining to the case. Some may find this startling, however, I have determined that it must be done.

Firstly, you may not be aware there is no statute of limitations on a murder investigation and possible charges. In or about the second week of June, 1953 there were three murders committed in the forest near Gaspe'. The victims were Eugene Hunter Lindsey, Richard Lindsey, and Frederick Claar, all from the state of Pennsylvania. Wilbert Coffin was charged with first degree murder and executed for the murder of Richard Lindsey. No charges were ever laid against anyone for the murder of Eugene Lindsey and Frederick Claar. Therefore, an open file exists on these individuals.

In the next two weeks,as a result of my investigation it is my intention to approach the Attorney General of Quebec to request that a formal investigation by The Quebec Provincial Police be instituted immediately with respect to the murder of Frederick Claar of East Freedom, Pennsylvania, USA.

The decision to do this is based on sevaral factors, among them, the availability of persons still alive from 1953 willing to submit to sworn testimony, and as well, the re-emergence of suppressed evidence from the time immediately subsequent to the murder. As well, a discarded handgun was found in relative close proximity to the crime scene after the murder, and that person has had contact with myself admitting to the discovery. In addition, serious questions linger with respect to the autopsy reports that cast the reported cause of death into disarray. It is important to note, Frederick Claar was reportedly shot a number of times, although no weapon was found, no bullets, and no bullet fragments or spent cartridge cases were found, and no broken bones. Through my work on this, and with the help of others, I am confident that I can explain these factors to support this murder investigation. I can also tell you that much has been learned and documented with respect to a certain vehicle that was in the area of this murder. This evidence too was suppressed in 1953.

I can also tell you this. When this is all put together, suspects emerge. Wilbert Coffin is not among the suspects.

I felt compelled to tell you these things first as this took place in the Gaspe' area. I did contact the local media on the coast a couple of weeks ago, however, both established telephone appointments were not kept, which influenced my decision to post on your site. Approximately one month ago, I related some of what I have told you to a request from CTV news in an elaborate audio and video link from Vancouver to Montreal. After re-arranging my day at short notice for an extensive studio interview, they saw fit to use exactly eleven seconds of a twenty minute interview for one short statement. Unfortunately, the big media appear to want to dwell on the old stuff, that is no further advanced than it was twenty years ago. That is sad and unfortunate. In closing, if you feel that you have information, or can direct me in any way here are my contact numbers. My e-mail address is talkbacktome@hotmail.com My telephone number is (604)524-8348. My web site is http://stoddardsviews.blogspot.com Thank you so much to all you great folks who have helped me tremendously in this project.

Lew Stoddard

Lew Stoddard said...

Message to G. Mitchell,

Thank you for your query. In this particular instaqnce, there is no request that a case be re-opened. That is simply because the file has never been closed, as there were never charges brought forward, hence, the file is still open and is simply being re-activated. It is however, being re-activated with evidence that was never introduced back in 1953. In that regard, this will actually constitute new evidence. In addition, there is new evidence that never surfaced during the initial investigation.

With reference to your final question, in which you asked "Could the courts/government not just declare that the others died of natural causes?" I guess they could say that, but considering that same government ministry said that Frederick Claar was wounded four or five times, it will be a tough sell getting anyone to believe them.

Thanks for your comments.

Lew stoddard

Shorty The Long Haul driver said...

Hey Man,

Don't adjust the set. Bring on another six pack and pop the corn, this game is now going into overtime. Lew i am amazzed at this new slant on this story and you know what it makes a lot of sence. You worked hard on it and i have always said you will get to the bottom of it. maybe now some of those so and so,s that put their stupidity in here with their comments will shut up and go away.

Shorty the long haul driver
out here on the cold prairies

Brenda Carl said...

Lew as I have told you before, you write it bold and you write it well. Bless you in this undertaking, and a quick note to Marie Coffin Stewart, this is going to work out. Merry Christmas to you and all your family, and also Merry Christmas to you too Lew.

Brenda Carl

Mary McIntosh said...

I was so pleased when I read that notice on the Gaspe web site this morning. You have worked so hard, your efforts are paying off. I can only imagine the encouragement that it gives to the Coffin family to know that someone is actually working like this behind the scenes.

Merry Christmas to all!

Mary McIntosh
Richmond Hill, Ontario

G Maher said...

I have commented here once before Sir. As I said then, if you are correct, it is time for the government to stand and be counted. More than ever I stress that now.

You have done good work on this whole thing. This investigation of Mr. Claars murder is an unusual step, but when considered, a very smart and logical step for sure. The results will most definitely impact onto Wilbert Coffin's conviction and execution.

G Maher
Drummondville, Quebec

Jeff S said...

Heard about the Go Gaspe announcement, was going to look and now I see you have it posted here as well. That is good. I think this now looks like a very positive approach. I wish you and the Coffin family well on this whole thing.

Jeff S
CFB Comox, B C

roger in sydney said...

have always knowed coffin was not guilty and belive it more now. will be good to see how. interests me when you say coffin is not on list of susspects of this clar boy and that would mean he should not have been susspect of lindsey boys murder as well because they were together.
Roger in Sydney nova Scotia

J McFayden said...

Hopefully the request to commence an investigation for the murder of Fred Claar will trigger what needs to be done to get this case disposed of.

It will at the same time hopefully show who should have, and who should be brought to justice to put this thing to rest once and for all. This is a courageous stance that you are taking Mr. Stoddard. Good luck with it, and a Merry Christmas to you.

J McFayden
Toronto, Ontario

T McLure said...

A Bold approach after so many years, but if the evidence supports it, that is what must be done. This has gone on too long, unfortunate that apparently an innocent man had to die because of it all though.

T McLure
Timmins

G Camile said...

I was born on the Gaspe Peninsula and lived there for several years, though sometime after this event happened. It was a bad topic in those days. I am glad to see that is changing. Too bad it couldn't have happened sooner. Many people were crushed over all this.

G Camile
Fredericton

Norine D said...

If there are still people around who think that you got away with this just because it happened so long ago, Guess what? They are coming to take you away!

Norine D
Rimouski

Mr and Mrs Corey said...

I thank you Sir for keeping this case in the forefront. The results have been fabulous, and by the look of things, you have a few surprises coming up. You have worked hard. This has been very difficult for all the Coffin family.

Mr. and Mrs. Corey
Barrie, Ontario

Dan M said...

My Mum who lives in the Gaspe phoned me this morning when she saw the notice. I think this is encouraging. I am a law student and have been following this case. You are making a very interesting observation on this case and you present it well. Good on you Sir. I shall be following the case with interest. I have been involved in a debate on this and the Truscott case.

Dan M
Saskatchewan

M McLean said...

It would appear that the government has not really been interested in clearing this thing up, otherwise they would have done it long ago. I sincerely hope that you are successful.

M McLean
Woodstock

Bryce D said...

If you are so adamant in what you are saying about this case and your plans regarding a new investigation, how come I haven't seen anything about all this in the news?

I am sure by now the news would have picked up on it wth all their coverages of this sort of thing if something existed.

Bryce D
Vancouver

D Laxton said...

I agree with what Bryce D says about this case. If there was something there the news would be all over it with all the coverage of this. Maybe Mr. Stoddard is trying draw some senationalism out of it all.

D Laxton
Burnaby, B C

Susan Miller said...

Mr. Stoddard I know that you have been working hard on this thing, but I have seen nothing in the Gaspe region either in news outlets that lend any support or proof to what you aledge. I hope there is but I think not as obviously the story would be known by now in the media of any new developments.

Susan Miller
Drummondville, Quebec

Anonymous said...

I just have to say--I am continually astonished at how trusting some people are of the media! Don't get me wrong...most actual reporters and people involved are no doubt good people. The greater machine of media in this country, however, is an entirely other matter. The fact that they have not picked up this story in absolutely no way effects the credibility of the story! Instead, it speaks to how the media operates and how they prioritize.

Nephew Ricl for Mother Elsie said...

E.Willett,Haileybury,Ont.
Thanks to L.Stoddard for the investigated reports he has put forth on his WEB site concerning the events that took place re: Wilbert Coffin, my brother, in the 50's.
Our children, including Jim, Bill's son have been ablr to read concrete facts re: Wilbert's execution. It was very hard to talk about those events especially to what then were only our young children.
The comments have been great. Perhaps this time around there will be a closure!
Sister Elsie