DNA test gives B.C. man hope after 34 years behind bars - APTN NewsAPTN News

DNA test gives B.C. man hope after 34 years behind bars

An Indigenous man who has spent 34 years behind bars for a crime he says he didn’t commit may get a new shot at freedom.

Phillip Tallio, of Bella Coola First Nation in British Columbia, learned Monday DNA from the victim can be tested.

It’s a major development and important part of the argument to free Tallio, said lawyer Rachel Barsky of Vancouver.

“He was very glad about it,” Barsky said in a telephone interview. “He said it was a long time coming.”

Tallio, 51, pleaded guilty to the rape and murder of toddler Delavina Mack in 1983, but claims his confession was fabricated. Barsky took the case as part of the Innocence Project at UBC law school.

DNA has been a key factor in helping overturn wrongful convictions around the world. This tissue sample will be tested at the Netherlands Forensic Institute in The Hague.

“RCMP will personally fly and accompany the sample,” Barsky added.

APTN Investigates looked into the Tallio case last fall when lawyers argued about DNA.

Mack was just 22 months old when she was killed and the crime split the remote community featured in this story.

The Crown opposed the DNA testing on the grounds age had degraded and potentially contaminated the sample. But three judges from the B.C. Court of Appeal were unanimously in favour.

“It is in the interests of justice to allow the testing to occur,” they said in a written decision.

Tallio claims the guilty plea to second-degree murder was entered without his consent. And says he didn’t understand what was happening.

Testing has shown he has a low intellect.

Barsky has been working seven years to exonerate Tallio.

“It’s a mix of emotions for him,” she said. “This is just another step towards an appeal.”

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One Response to “DNA test gives B.C. man hope after 34 years behind bars”

  1. proulxpm@gmail.com'
    Patricia Proulx March 14, 2018 at 4:37 pm #

    Yup it is about time they started doing the DNA testing for these guys as they have had no problems with doing it for the white guys. I know of one indigenous person in Ferndale who was not guilty but they put in a guilty plea for him. He has been in jail for 41 years and no one gave a damn about him. I found out about him almost 7 years ago while serving part of his time in P.A. he had a major stroke early in serving his time and no one in his family were ever notified since this guy didn’t have the capability to say anything. After 35 years if his being inside I took it upon myself to late his family who are in Massey Ontario. They didn’t know if he was alive or not nor did he know if his family was dead or alive. I recently found out that he was affected with mercury poisoning as a child as most were in his band. So besides suffering from mercury poisoning and the major stroke he has has a bunch of mini strokes since his major stroke. I have been doing everything I can to find someone to help me with this guy as he is in there for so long and he still says he was innocent as that girl was his best friend and she was the only one who was able to calm him down when he would get upset about anything but they insisted he killed her and he was given life with no chance of parole for 10 years. The fact that he didn’t have an education with also being affected by the mercury plus they didn’t have DNA testing back then and when they finally got the DNA working no one helped him until I got into his life. I am hoping that someone will read this and help me to help him. This man is already 61 years old and has been in jail 2/3 of his life for something he said he didn’t do ( I believe him 100%) and I will stand by him for as long as I am alive as I think it is a shame that these people are being railroaded just because they are indigenous people. Please if anyone will help me get him out of there it would be greatly appreciated. He has a home to come out to as I have promised that I would always be here for him since no one else is. Someone needs to care or at least do everything to help him. I will wsnt for someone else like me who cares about justice. I am a white person who is asking for help in getting this guy freed from all this just because he is indigenous. I am begging for help for this man as 41 years in jail for something he didn’t do is way to much time just because he is not capable to fight for himself. Is he supposed to die in jail for something he didn’t do either.