Judge rules appeal for 1983 Tallio murder case will go ahead

Judge rules appeal for 1983 Tallio murder case will go ahead

B.C. Court of Appeal Justice Elizabeth Bennett ruled last Friday, June 30 that Tallio’s appeal of his second-degree murder charge will proceed.

B.C. Court of Appeal Justice Elizabeth Bennett ruled last Friday, June 30 that Tallio’s appeal of his second-degree murder charge will proceed.

Friday’s decision, which legal observers are already calling “historic,” allows the appeal to proceed. The ruling hinged on the issue of DNA evidence, with the judge saying new testing had the potential to either exonerate Tallio or conclusively re-affirm he was guilty.

If Tallio’s appeal were to be successful, it would make Canadian legal history as the longest prison sentence served by someone found to be wrongly convicted.

Phillip James Tallio was arrested and charged in 1983 with the murder of a 22-month-old girl on a First Nations reserve near Bella Coola. Tallio, who was 17 at the time, initially pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, but nine days into a jury trial he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, which brought a sentence of life in prison with no parole eligibility for 10 years.

Tallio’s lawyers argued Monday in support of his application to withdraw his guilty plea 33 years after sentencing. Much of Monday’s hearing pertained to DNA evidence.

Tallio’s appeal effort, eight years in the making, was initiated by the University of B.C.’s Innocence Project at the Allard School of Law. Tallio’s is the first file from the Project, now in its 10th year, to make its way into court.

For the past eight years, lawyers have been working to mount an appeal for Tallio, but he first needed permission of the court to bring an appeal more than 30 years past the deadline to file an appeal. Tallio had 30 days from the time he was sentenced to file a notice of appeal.

Bennet also lifted a decades long publication ban in the appeal in response to an application by Postmedia and the APTN challenging the ban, citing that although it is painful for the families involved, the release of the information is in the public interest.

She lifted much of the ban that had been in place since last March and noted that “media is relied upon to bring information about the court’s proceedings to the public.”

In her ruling, the judge also spoke to the concerns of the victim’s parents, but ultimately declined to grant the publication ban they sought.

“I understand, as best I can, how deeply these proceedings must hurt them. However, this case has significant public interest given that there is an allegation of a wrongful conviction,” she said in her ruling.

“In my view, the interests of justice demand that Mr. Tallio be permitted to bring his application for further DNA testing and to go forward with this appeal generally,” Bennett said in granting the filing extension. “I am satisfied there is ample evidence to demonstrate that the issue of DNA testing is a viable ground for appeal.”

Tallio’s family was on hand as the judge delivered her ruling.

“I feel awesome, I feel so relieved,” said his daughter, Honey Hood. “I know it’s only the first step, but it’s the biggest step. Now my dad will get what he deserves, 34 years later.”

“I will be able to get to know my father, and he will get to know his grandchildren, my children, who he’s never met,” Hood said hopefully, adding she wanted to get home to hug her children.

With files from Postmedia

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The school is very proud of these students (pictured, left to right): Halim Demir (holding Grace Valdez’ gold certificate); Lauren McIlwain, Shayleen Mack, Jaymen Schieck, Kyle Doiron, and Finn Carlson (photo submitted)
SAMS students excel in international competition

The SAMS team swept their category this year; all six participants received awards

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

The avalanche came down on the highway sometime Sunday evening (Feb. 21) (Dawson photo)
Road to Bella Coola wharf reopens after large avalanche

The road was closed after a large avalanche covered a significant portion of the highway

Jenni Mueller lives near the wharf on the other side of the avalanche. She took this photo and thinks the avalanche happened around 8 p.m. last night (February 21). (Jenni Mueller photo)
Avalanche closes road to wharf at Bella Coola

A day and night of heavy rain resulted in avalanches across the region

Fisheries and Oceans Canada released it's 2021 Pacific Herring Integrated Fisheries Management Plan Feb. 19. (File photo)
Northern herring opportunities kept to a minimum

2021 management plan caps Prince Rupert fishery at 5 per cent

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

Most Read