Lafaver Exonerated Of Decades-Old Death

Friday, March 27, 2009 at 15:23



The man accused of killing a Montreal Lake band member more over 33 years ago in Prince Albert National Park has been found not guilty of manslaughter.


68-year-old William George Lafaver showed no visible sign when the verdict was handed down in Prince Albert Provincial Court today.


Judge Hugh Harradence didn’t explain his reasons in court, but did provide copies of the judgment to the media.


It was back in 1975 that Caroline Roberts suffered fatal head injuries while sharing a fire tower cabin with Lafaver.


In his 32-page decision, Harradence found fault with a number of things related to the case.


He said Lafaver’s recollection of the incident was extremely inconsistent, and it was likely he reconstructed his memory in error.


He also found fault with the province’s chief forensic pathologist’s handling of the case.


Harradence said Dr. Shaun Ladham accessed the entire police file — as well as an interview with the accused — in his investigation.


He found this method to be unusual with the potential to compromise the case.


Lafaver’s lawyer, Peter Burns, acknowledges his client expressed guilt over the night in question, but says the evidence proves he didn’t cause the woman’s death.


Court heard during the trial that both Lafaver and Roberts had consumed a lot of alcohol the night in question.


An inquest at the time determined Roberts died after falling down accidently and hitting her head on the stove.


Burns says that’s a more plausible explanation for what may have occurred.


Crown prosecutor Peter Ryhorchuk says he’s disappointed with the decision, but likely won’t appeal.