Transfixed!


MINDY TRAN UNPUBLISHED

Unpublished stories found on computer at KELOWNA Daily Courier


By Ron Seymour
The Daily Courier

If she'd lived, Mindy Tran would be 13 and as anonymous as any other
Kelowna youngster.
She'd be in Middle School, probably still doing well at math and helping
her classmates. She'd be a voracious reader, writing stories of her own and
perhaps dreaming of a career as a writer.
Instead, Mindy is Kelowna's best-known murder victim, her incongruously
smiling face having been reproduced countless times in newspapers and
broadcast repeatedly on television.
And now it appears her killer will never be brought to justice.
After Shannon Murrin's acquittal Tuesday on a charge of first-degree
murder, police said they had no plans to resume the investigation. They
clearly believe they had the right man and seem willing to close the book
on the case.
But for those who loved Mindy - and for all those who felt they came to
know something of her - the shy, sweet and helpful eight-year-old girl will
never be forgotten.
"She is in our thoughts every day, and will live in our memory forever,"
the Tran family said in a statement issued after the verdict was delivered.
Mindy would have entered Grade 3 at Springvalley Elementary in the fall of
1994. In the days after her disappearance, family members publicly pleaded
for her safe return. At the suggestion of police, they spoke of Mindy in
highly personal terms, hoping such an approach would persuade her abductor
to free her.
"If whoever has Mindy can hear me now, put yourself in my position," Annie
Tran said. "If you lost a child, who you love so much, how would you feel?
You would want that person to let her go. Please set her free and let her
go back to school."
Mimi Tran, then 18, said her sister Mindy loved school. "She gets lots of
spelling awards and math awards (and) she excels at reading."
No one knew it at the time, of course, but Mindy was already dead. Her
strangled body was found in mid-October in Mission Creek Regional Park.
On the day of her funeral, Oct. 19, Springvalley's 500 students walked to
the park and spelled out her name in yellow flowers. A few blocks away,
almost 1,000 people attended a memorial service.
In their eulogies, Mindy's teachers recalled a quiet girl, but one who was
beginning to blossom as she developed her creative abilities.
"Mindy was a talented, creative artist who drew intricate illustrations of
clouds, sunshine and flowers," Hanna Storozak, Mindy's Grade 2 teacher.
"She was also a writer who composed imaginative and funny stories up to 10
pages in length."
"At first, I felt she was timid, but with some persuasion she took on a
leadership role," Storozak said.
Liz Daley, Mindy's Grade 1 teacher, said the girl was "sweet, gentle,
well-mannered and sensitive student who always tried to do her best, a
friendly little girl who wanted to help others."
A child's death symbolizes shattered dreams, said Rev. Albert Baldeo, who
conducted the funeral service. He noted that the Tran family had left
Vietnam in 1979 looking for peace and a better life in Canada.
Mindy's death affected almost everyone in Kelowna, Baldeo said: "This
tragedy has touched the lives of the very young, our youth, parents,
grandparents, police - a wide section of our entire community."
In life, Mindy didn't have the chance to directly affect many people. But
one whose life she did touch was Marnie van Eldik, a classmate of Mindy's
at Springvalley Elementary. After Mindy's death, Jeannette van Eldik,
Marnie's mom, wrote a card to the Tran family that read:
"I met Mindy only once, but Marnie's stories of her from school have
brought her into our home as if I knew her well. Marnie loved being a
partner with her and was always impressed with her great skill at math.
Mindy was a great help to Marnie in math, although Marnie was in Grade 3.
"Marnie enjoyed playing with Mindy at recess and lunch. Her stories of
Mindy showed me a delightful, fun-loving and studious little girl. We will
always miss her, and forever hold her in our hearts."


ends



There are pics of both houses on Browser


By J.P. SQUIRE
The Daily Courier

The new residents of 360 Taylor Rd. aren't bothered by the possibility
Mindy Tran may have been strangled in their duplex.
"It doesn't make any difference to me," said Don Rutherford on Tuesday.
"It's a roof over our heads and the rent is reasonable. It doesn't really
change anything. We just get on with our lives. It's the only way to do it.
It is unfortunate for the Tran family."
Shannon Murrin was judged not guilty by his peers in a democracy, he noted.
"What else can you do? It just seems like looking at the trial it was kinda
scattered, inconsistent, the whole entire trial. They weren't really
pointing at him with the evidence."
June and Robert Edwards moved into the other half of the duplex in 1997,
well after Mindy Tran's disappearance and the discovery of her body in
Mission Creek Regional Park.
"We weren't even here then," said June on Tuesday.
"I haven't talked to our neighbours about it. It's never been discussed, so
I don't have an opinion on the verdict. It doesn't bother us because it
(the murder) was on the other side (of the duplex) down in the basement."

By Don Plant
The Daily Courier

Shannon Murrin is suspected of killing a little girl in Edmonton but he may
never be charged.
Murrin, 49, was on day parole in the Alberta capital when Corinne (Punky)
Gustavson, 6, was abducted outside her family's rented townhouse Sept. 6,
1992. He was living in a halfway house after serving time for armed robbery
and assault.
"He has not been eliminated as a suspect," said Sgt. Bryan Boulanger of the
Edmonton Police Services. "We know he was living in Edmonton at the time
Corinne Gustvason was abducted and murdered."
Edmonton police received scalp hair, pubic hair and a blood sample from
Murrin as a result of investigating another sexual assault. They agreed to
turn the items over to the Kelowna Mounties, who intended to compare them
to hairs found at the Mindy Tran crime scene.
Murrin refused to take a lie-detector test when Edmonton police visited him
at Matsqui Institution in the Fraser Valley, where he was held in
segregation to protect him from other prisoners.
Corinne was last seen playing with a friend in a common area outside her
family's townhouse. Her body was found two days later lying face-down
between two semi-trailers in a trucking yard about a 15-minute drive away.
She'd been sexually assaulted. A police report said she died of "soft
smothering."
Corinne's playmate told police that a dark-haired man with a patch of blond
hair and three earrings in his left ear picked up Corinne, hugged her and
carried her off.
Edmonton police and Kelowna Mounties compared notes on the murders of
Corinne and Mindy because of the similarities in the crimes.
The person who dumped Corinne's body was wearing small-sized Mitre brand
baseball cleat shoes, Edmonton police revealed months after the murder. The
prints at the scene where the body was found matched a men's size-6 shoe.
"We have members here, full-grown men, that can wear these," Const. Brent
Ball said in 1992. He added they could have been worn by a woman.
Edmonton police have refused to say whether the English lab that analysed
Murrin's DNA samples for the Mindy Tran case had matched Murrin's DNA with
samples collected from Corinne.
"We're not prepared to go there because we still have an open homicide
investigation," said Boulanger. "What we say today can't prejudice a trial."
Corinne's mother is upset police have failed to name a suspect in more than
seven years. Two detectives and a constable specializing in criminal
intelligence analysis are working on the case but they can't comment on
their progress, said Boulanger.
"We know the family has suffered a loss far greater than we can imagine.
Our job is to conduct an investigation within the parameters of the law,"
he said. "We've said to the family, 'you'll be angry with us because we
can't share information with you.'"
Some reaction from lawyers and people close to the Shannon Murrin
investigation:

E.S. Holmes, wife of Rob Holmes (one of three men charged with beating
Murrin at Mindy's gravesite on Jan. 5, 1995): "We are so devastated he
(Murrin) got off scot free. Son of a gun. It makes me want to throw up.
He'll end up being the richest man in the world.
"I've got to look forward to him threatening to kill us because we told
police where his clothes are. (Rob) is so sick of it. He's getting all
kinds of news media calling."
Lawyer and former Mountie Neville McDougall: "Based on the evidence that was reported in the media, how could they (the jury) not have reasonable doubt? I expected the verdict and I'm just not so sure that he (Murrin) did it. "I think a jury expects and demands police give evidence in a forthright and honest manner. When you have officers saying the police haven't told the truth, that bothers a jury and it may have assisted Murrin in being acquitted." Lawyer Grant Gray: "No doubt, there were a lot of contradictions in the evidence. When you take a jailhouse informant who's convicted of perjury, most intelligent people will look at that with suspicion. "(The jury) took their instructions to heart from the judge. They went out and deliberated with great care and rendered the decision they did." photography by ronald ross seymour, esq. By Ron Seymour The Daily Courier News of Shannon Murrin's acquittal was received on the streets of Kelowna with a mix of shock and anger, but also a sense on the part of some people that the verdict was inevitable. Of a dozen people interviewed Tuesday morning, most said they were surprised and disappointed that Murrin had been found not guilty of murdering Kelowna's Mindy Tran in 1994. They said they wanted to believe the RCMP had the right man when a first-degree murder charge was laid against Murrin. Despite the not-guilty verdict, most of those interviewed said they believed that Murrin had, in fact, killed Mindy. But several people noted the unusual elements that developed as the investigation and prosecution wore on, suggesting that helped to raise some doubts in their mind about Murrin's guilt. The length of time it took police to lay a charge - almost three years from the time Mindy's body was discovered - was mentioned by several people as the first curious aspect of the case. Then, there was the sensational allegation that Sgt. Gary Tidsbury, the lead investigator, encouraged three men to beat a confession out of Murrin. Others said most of the case against Murrin appeared to be circumstantial and noted that the form of DNA evidence presented at trial is relatively new and not yet widely accepted. 1. John Ignace, 53: "Oh god, no! I think he was guilty. I would say the police botched the case. That Tidsbury, he was a little, how would you say, using too much of an uppercut on the investigation." 2. Dennis Ayre, 49: "Was he found not guilty? Really? By the sounds of it, the evidence was screwed up quite a bit by the authorities. I think that's what got him off. I think he should have been found guilty, but I can't blame the jury. There were too many questions that weren't answered." 3. (pic) Kevin Summers, 39: "Oh, wow! From what I heard, he sounded very guilty. I think the police should get it together, get it right and charge him again. They messed up this time, but they could still go after him." 4. (pic) Billie Jo Jonasson, 33: "I heard the cops botched the case up, but I do think Murrin was guilty. I thought that from Day One. It's unreal that he got off." 5. (pic) Wayne LaHay, 57: "I would have liked to hear he was guilty, just for the sake of the Tran family. I don't have an opinion one way or the other whether he was guilty, but do you think there's a better justice system than ours anywhere in the world? I'd hate to see an innocent man go to jail." 6. (pic) Eleanor Bond, 48: "That does surprise me. I wanted him to be guilty, just for Mindy's family. To go through all this and not know what happened, that must be terrible. I can't comment on whether or not he was guilty. The jury heard all the evidence; I didn't. I don't like trial by media." 7. (pic) Laura MacLeod, 30: "It instinctively makes me a little afraid, because I've heard that he might be wanted for the murder of an Edmonton girl. I certainly hope he didn't get off on a technicality." 8. (pic) Louis Nagy, 62: "The probability is high that he did kill Mindy, but it's not for me to second guess the jury. The RCMP must have had a reason to believe he did it. It's a little upsetting, because we have to
trust the RCMP to do these investigations properly."

9 (pic) Shirley Daignault, 38: "The verdict doesn't surprise me. From what
I could gather, most of the evidence was pretty circumstantial. But it is
disappointing, because I think he did it."

10 (no pic) Fred Davis, 69: "I figured the guy was guilty. No proof
whatsoever, of course, just prejudice since he was the one the police
charged. But I'd hate to see an innocent guy go to jail."


11 (pic) Kim Bulback, 31: "The verdict didn't surprise me, mostly because
the case took so long. And there were so many strange things, like those
fellows supposedly beating a confession out of him. Did he do it? I can't
say one way or the other."


ends







By Chuck Poulsen
The Daily Courier

If you feel a hollowness in the pit of your stomach today over the
not-guilty verdict in the Shannon Murrin trial, you'll have a lot of
company.
Counsellor Glenis Holmes, who specializes in treating emotional trauma,
said the entire community will be deeply affected by not being able to put
the tragedy to rest.
"I feel so sad for the family that their pain continues," said Holmes. "It
remains an open sore for the whole community. There is no closure in this
for anyone."
Holmes was not speaking to the issue of Murrin's guilt or innocence, but
said the injustice of a killer who is most likely still at large has a
profound affect everyone.
"When you can't feel like an injustice is corrected, that's traumatic," she
said.
Her suggestion for the Trans, for now at least, is to stay close to family
and friends.
"They need to stay close to each other and grieve again," she said. "They
need to keep sharing and talking about their grief.
"That's true for everyone in the community."
Holmes said any anger needs to be directed at the killer, not the Crown or
police, who have been criticized for their handling of the case.
"We all have a tendency to blame someone, but in the end the offender is
the only one to blame," she said. "Let's pray that person is brought
forward at some point in time."



By Chuck Poulsen
The Daily Courier

Mindy Tran's parents and sister prepared to face the future Tuesday amid
sadness and confusion over Shannon Murrin's not guilty verdict.
The Tran family went into seclusion Tuesday, but not before issuing a
statement that was read to the media by Cpl. Greg Heck, who has been
involved with the family for some time and fought back tears while reading
portions of the remarks.
"The past five and a half years have been extremely difficult for our
family," said the statement. "Mr. and Mrs. John and Annie Tran, and
daughter Mimi, would like to express our thanks to their friends, the
community of Kelowna, the RCMP, the media and all the trial witnesses for
their help and thoughts during this difficult time.
"Regardless of the outcome of the trial, our great sorrow is that we will
never have our daughter Mindy back with us. We have learned to live with
this situation. She is in our thoughts every day and will live on in our
memory forever.
"We are unhappy and confused with the results of the trial. It is hard to
believe this outcome with all the evidence. Time has gone by, but we must
continue to live with this heartbreak for the rest of our lives."
Friends of the Tran family were disappointed by the verdict and fearful
that Murrin may be a danger to others.
"I and my friends are very disappointed (in the verdict)," said Huynh Bien,
46, who knew Mindy and her parents.
"We feel very sorry for the family and very hurt by it.
"We are also worried. Most of us believe that if he (Murrin) is released he
may repeat and be harmful to others."
RCMP spokesman Garth Letcher said the six-year-long investigation and trial
had taken a toll on the entire community.
"We're all well aware of the impact this has had on the officers and staff
here as well as the community," he said. "I can only say that all of the
officers did their very best to gather all available information before the
courts in an unbiased fashion.
"I can give you my assurances that the RCMP will continue to work within
the community to make sure a tragedy such as this never happens again."






Shannon Murrin claps hands, gives jury thumbs up as it finds him not guilty
in death of Mindy Tran

By Greg Joyce
VANCOUVER (CP) - Shannon Murrin gleefully clapped his hands, exclaimed "oh,
man" and flashed a thumbs-up Tuesday after a jury found him not guilty of
killing an eight-year-old girl in 1994.
Murrin, 49, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Mindy Tran
in Kelowna, B.C.
Her body was found two months later in a shallow grave in a park, but
Murrin wasn't charged until January 1997.
Murrin, who's spent the last five years in jail, strolled out the front
door of the Law Courts building in downtown Vancouver with one of his
lawyers. He got into a car driven by his other lawyer, intending to go home
to Newfoundland.
"Just happy to get out," he said, grinning and giving another thumbs up. "I
can't believe it. Jury's right on."
Defence lawyer Peter Wilson said Murrin, who has a lengthy criminal record
and has spent between 15 and 20 years in prison for bank robberies and
assaults, would likely take a plane to Newfoundland right away and be
reunited with his mother.
"I always believed in him Š because I knew he was innocent," Laura Murrin
said from her home in St. John's.
"He was always around children, all of his friends had children, he was
always around them."
She also expressed sympathy for Mindy's family.
"My heart goes out to that family and I hope and pray to God that they find
the one who did that."
In Kelowna, RCMP Cpl. Greg Heck read a prepared statement from Mindy's
family - parents John and Annie and older sister Mimi.
"The past five years have been extremely difficult for our family," Heck
read. "She is in our thoughts every day and we will honour her memory,"
said Heck, his voice breaking with emotion.
Former RCMP sergeant Gary Tidsbury, who led the investigation of the
killing, left B.C. Supreme Court quickly after the verdict.
Tidsbury, who the defence said mishandled the investigation, said he was
disappointed but had faith in the jury system.
After the verdict, a spokesman for the Attorney General's Ministry in
Victoria confirmed that Tidsbury was investigated by the RCMP and a special
prosecutor.
It found no grounds to lay charges against Tidsbury, who now works in
security for a large company in Calgary, said Geoff Gaul.
The Crown has the right under Canadian law to appeal an acquittal, but Gaul
said that hadn't been decided.
"We're going to have to review the entire matter."
The jury began deliberating last Wednesday and was two days short of tying
a record for the longest deliberation for a criminal trial in B.C.
About 90 witnesses testified, although Murrin was not among them.
The jury began hearing evidence in the trial, which likely cost taxpayers
million of dollars, Aug. 3, 1999. But a six-month voir dire preceded jury
selection.
The trial had been scheduled to begin in May 1998 but was postponed when a
British lab completed DNA tests that linked Murrin to three hairs found in
Mindy's underwear.
The jury knew of his criminal past, but were told by the judge to not take
that into account.
Mindy had lived in a quite Kelowna neighbourhood, near a house where Murrin
was a boarder and where a friend of Mindy also lived.
The Crown's theory was that Murrin killed and sexually abused the girl,
stuffed her body into a suitcase and then took it to the park where he
covered it with leaves and twigs.
No suitcase was ever found.
There was no evidence of a sexual attack because the body had decomposed by
the time it was found.
The Crown said the most reliable eyewitness said Mindy was last seen
between 6:45 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. near the accused's house.
The defence said that Crown witness actually saw Mindy at about 6 p.m..
The defence's theory was that Murrin was at a friend's house at about 7
p.m. but that police convinced a defence witness - Murrin's main alibi - to
change his story and say Murrin was there more than an hour later.
The police investigation that followed the discovery of Mindy's body
included events surrounding a now-famous beating of Murrin on Jan. 5, 1995,
by three acquaintances.
Those events prompted the defence to argue police had decided on Murrin as
the prime suspect and then tried to make the evidence fit.
The Crown said the police were only doing their job - thoroughly checking
witnesses and their recollection of events.
Special prosecutor Richard Peck said his investigation focused solely on
Tidsbury's role in the beating of Murrin, not the entire criminal
investigation.
"We were looking primarily at whether the evidence would substantiate a
charge in terms of an assault or criminal negligence or bodily harm sort of
charge," said Peck.
Murrin's name has come up in connection with another case.
A spokesman for the Edmonton Police Service would neither confirm nor deny
whether Murrin has or will be questioned in the murder of Corrine (Punky)
Gustavson, a six-year-old Edmontonian murdered in 1992.
"We're acknowledging that Murrin was residing in Edmonton at the time of
Corrine Gustavson's abduction and murder, beyond that we have not
eliminated him as a suspect," said Staff Sgt. Bryan Boulanger.
Punky was abducted, sexually assaulted and smothered in 1992 in one of
Edmonton's most enduring and heart-rending mysteries.
No one has ever been charged in the case.

An unusual aspect of the trial was the defence calling five RCMP witnesses
to testify about the evening when Murrin was beaten.
The five "to varying degrees," said the defence, gave testimony that did
not jibe with testimony from Crown police witnesses.
Tidsbury testified he warned Murrin's three friends several times not to do
anything illegal or use any violence to get Murrin to the gravesite.
Prior to the beating, Murrin had pointed a gun at one of the three men,
which subsequently resulted in him pleading guilty to two firearms offences
and receiving a two-year sentence.
He was arrested upon his release in January 1997 and charged with Mindy's
murder.
Other key evidence at the trial included witnesses and their varied
testimony about seeing a man carrying a suitcase either to away from the
park.
Only two of the 11 "suitcase" witnesses pointed out Murrin during the
trial. The rest were unsure.

The jury was the first in Canada to hear evidence about mitochondrial DNA,
a relatively new method of identification that evidence showed is not as
precise as the more familiar nuclear DNA.
The Crown called experts from the Forensic Science Service in England and
the FBI to testify that three hairs found at the crime scene matched the
mitochondrial DNA of Murrin, although in the British database of 2,011
there were three other matches similar to Murrin.
One Crown witness said the DNA results excluded 99.76 per cent of the
population.
Evidence showed it is not nearly as conclusive as the more widely known
nuclear DNA because it comes from the mitochondria - outside the nucleus -
and contains only genetic information from a maternal line, not the complex
genetic makeup of both parents.
The jury also heard several days of testimony from Douglas Martin, a
jailhouse informant with a long criminal record.
His testimony - that Murrin had confessed the crime to him while they
shared a cell - was the only direct evidence led by the Crown.
The defence said Martin's testimony was incredible because his convictions
include crimes of dishonesty and theft and he is also a convicted perjurer.
The judge warned the jury not to accept Martin's evidence alone, but to
look for some of his testimony that could be corroborated by other evidence.
Murrin's mother said she will have some advice for him when he gets home.
"I'll ask him never to leave home again, just stay here in Newfoundland,"
she said, adding that she last saw him about five years ago.
CP 1806ES 25-01-00


1994
Just after 6 p.m., Aug. 17 - Mindy tells her family she is going to visit
her friend four houses down the street on Taylor Road in Rutland.
6:30 p.m. - Annie Tran tells her daughter to come home to take a bath.
Mindy says "Later, Mommy."
7 p.m. - Annie goes out to search for Mindy, but finds oniy the girl's
bicycle on the front lawn of the little girl's friend.
7:52 p.m. - Annie calls police.
9 p.m. - A helicopter begins flying over South Rutland and Mission Creek
Park with flood lights, and searchers fan out.
Aug. 18 - Volunteers resume the search at daybreak, combing the brush of
Mission Creek Park, searching yards in Rutland and spreading out as far as
Big White Road, East Kelowna and Kelowna Airport.
Aug. 19 - Police receive a report of a white man forcing an Asian girl into
a brown pickup truck a few blocks from Mindy's home; 140 searchers cover 40
square miles.
Aug. 20 - More than 200 volunteers, 30 police and RCMP dogs have covered
more than 100 square miles.
Aug. 21 - Police end the pubiic search. Twenty RCMP members, the police
helicopter and search-and-rescue personnel continue to search
Aug. 24 - A $25,000 reward fund for Mindy's return is unveiled. Reward is
later increased to $35,000.
Aug. 25 - Police announce they're looking for a suspicious white van seen
prowling around Mindy's neighborhood the day she disappeared.
Oct. 11 - Rex Fitz-Gerald, of Kelowna Search and Rescue, finds a shoe
matching the description of Mindy's in heavy brush in Mission Creek Park. A
body, beiieved to be Mindy's remains, is found buried in a shaliow grave at
the site.
Oct. 19 The Tran family buries their daughter.
1995
Jan. 4 - Police announce they're looking for a man seen walking down Taylor
Road carrying a suitcase the night Mindy disappeared.
Jan. 5 - Several men meet Shannon Leonard Murrin at his residence on Elwyn
Road. Murrin, 44, aims a loaded handgun directly at one of the men. The
others disarm him. Police later say the men confronted Murrin about his
alleged involvement in Mindy's death and beat him at the gravesite.
Jan. 17 - Murrin, still recovering from the assault, pleads guilty to
weapons offences and is sentenced to two years in prison. He is being held
in segregation at Matsqui Institution.
Feb. 1 - RCMP announce they have a suspect in Mindy's death, but have not
charged him. Media
outlets identify him as Murrin.
May 15 - Police reveal they have bodily samples from Murrin, but are
concerned they may not be admissible in court. A legal loophole prohibits
police from taking a bodily sample for DNA analysis unless a suspect
volunteers it. Murrin refuses to submit one.
June 26 - Police announce the DNA analysis of biological samples taken from
the gravesite will
be assessed at RCMP labs in Ottawa and Vancouver. Results should be
released by late August.
July 13 - Legislation ailowing police to take DNA samples from suspects in
serious crimes
becomes law.
1996
Jan. 23 - Senior prosecutors say they will
Seed five weeks to decide whether there's enough evidence to charge Murrin.
A panel of Crown prosecutors, hand picked from the Southern Interior,
gather to review the case.
June 17 - A preliminary court hearing is held to determine if there is
enough evidence to charge three men accused of beating Murrin. On June 20,
the court orders the three men to stand trial.
June 27 - Senior prosecutors were expected to announce whether there is
enough evidence to charge Murrin, but say they need until August to make
that determination.
Sept. 16 - Police begin digging in the Glenmore landfill, looking for more
evidence. Two
years after the eight-year-old Tran was strangled, RCMP sift through
garbage collected from the neighborhood in which the Murrin and the Tran
family lived. The garbage frorn the neighborhood was segregated after its
collection, but police did not look through the entire pile until this
week.
Three men accused of beating Murrin to within an inch of his life are
scheduled to start trial April 1.

1997
Jan. 13 - Sgt. Gary Tidsbury of the Kelowna RCMP signs an information
charging Shannon Leonard Murrin with first-degree murder in the death of
Mindy Tran. The next day police make public the charge and the Tran family
talks to the media.

1998
May - Trial date is set for May, but is postponed when a British lab
completes DNA tests that links Murrin to Mindy. The Crown believes the
physical evidence is vital to a conviction, and a new trial date is set.

1999
February - Trial begins at Vancouver Law Courts, beginning with a six-month
voir dire (a trial within a trial, with the jury not present). The
technical details of the mitochondrial DNA evidence is debated for four
weeks.
Aug. 3 - Vancouver jury begins hearing evidence.
Jan. 17 - Jury begins deliberations.
Jan. 25 - Jury finds Murrin not guilty of first-degree murder.
















By Brennan Clarke
The Daily Courier

The investigation into the murder of eight-year-old Mindy Tran will not be
reopened, despite a not-guilty verdict in the trial of Shannon Murrin.
Kelowna RCMP spokesman Garth Letcher told reporters that police still
believe Murrin, who was exonerated Tuesday by a Vancouver jury, killed Tran.
"We are extremely disappointed with the outcome today," Letcher said at a
brief news conference Tuesday outside the RCMP detachment on Doyle Avenue.
"The jury deliberated and they determined that the facts in this case were
insufficient beyond a reasonable doubt to render a verdict of guilty,"
Letcher said.
"Having said that, the RCMP has every confidence that the appropriate
person was charged in this investigation. Therefore, there are no plans at
this time to continue the investigation in any manner."
Tuesday's verdict marked the end of a six-month trial that began Aug. 3,
more than five years after Tran went missing.
Jurors heard allegations that Sgt. Gary Tidsbury dispatched three thugs to
beat a confession out of Murrin, testimony from former Const. Beth Killaly
that Tidsbury said Murrin would be tied to a tree if he confessed, and a
statement under oath by one of the three men that Tidsbury gave them men
"carte blanche" to coerce a confession out of Murrin.
But Letcher said there will be no follow up to a review initiated in 1996
by the RCMP's complaints and internal investigation unit in Vancouver and
forwarded to the Ministry of Attorney-General in Feb of 1999.
"The ministry has rendered a decision with respect to the review of the
police investigation and it's my understanding that their review has
determined that no charges will be brought against Sgt. Tidsbury," Letcher
said.
The officers' may have remembered events differently, Letcher said when
asked if the officers' contradictory testimony warranted an investigation.
"It's is a reasonable explanation to say that these officers simply
testified truthfully and to the best of their recollection," he said.
"Their recollections may have differed from each other, but it certainly
did not go to the extent that there was any evidence that would warrant the
RCMP looking into it further."
It's too soon to measure the impact of the verdict on officers involved in
the Tran case, Letcher added.
"We're still pondering the effects of that decision," he said. "All I can
tell you is that the officers at the detachment here did their very best."

-30-


Cutlines: Woman peeking out door, walking along Taylor. Janice Haight of
515 Taylor Rd. saw a man carrying a suitcase along her Rutland street and
is now convinced it was Shannon Murrin.

Carole Moncrieff of Gramiak Road pulls her 2 1/2-year-old daughter along
Taylor Road on Tuesday shortly after a jury found Shannon Murrin not guilty.
J.P. SQUIRE photo




By J.P. SQUIRE
The Daily Courier

Shocked Taylor Road neighbours huddled in their homes Tuesday, clutching
their children and taking some small comfort in knowing that, for the
moment, their kids were safe.
The not-guilty verdict for Shannon Murrin took them back to the days and
months after Mindy Tran was strangled and her body left in a shallow
depression in nearby Mission Creek Regional Park.
"There's a walkway right here and I used to watch the children come and
go," said Janice Haight of 515 Taylor Rd.
"It was like a ghost town after

 

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