Sealed DNA in Phillip Tallio murder case must be released, orders Judge

A unanimous decision by B.C. Court of Appeal judges has ordered the release of a sealed DNA sample

Phillip Tallio has maintained his innocence for 35 years.

A unanimous decision by the B.C. Court of Appeal judges has ordered the release of a sealed DNA sample from the 35-year-old murder case for further testing.

Phillip Tallio, a resident of Bella Coola, was convicted of suffocating his cousin, 22-month-old Delavina Mack, at a party in Bella Coola, B.C., in 1983. He was 17 at the time.

He originally pleaded not guilty, but his lawyers changed that plea to guilty nine days into his trial. Tallio was convicted of second-degree murder in 1984.

His lawyers are arguing that the evidence could prove he was wrongly convicted – and could potentially prove another relative was the real killer.

Tallio has been described as having an intellect “far below his years,” and he has maintained his innocence for 35 years, which has resulted in him being repeatedly denied parole.

Last year, Tallio’s lawyers successfully applied to appeal his conviction – more than three decades after the appeal deadline expired.

Tallio’s case is being spearheaded by a group called the Innocence Project, a non-profit legal organization that is committed to exonerating wrongly convicted people with DNA evidence.

Their case rests upon dozens of tissue samples taken from Mack’s body that have been kept at B.C. Children’s Hospital.

At the time the samples were taken, DNA testing did not exist. There is a chance the samples could still prove inclusive because of time and contamination.

Two samples have already been tested. The first test showed that Tallio was “excluded” from one sample but “not excluded” from another. His lawyers said that simply means the second test was inconclusive, given the technology in use at the time.

A second partial sample tested in 2013 from male DNA concluded the killer could have been any of Tallio’s male relatives.

Tallio’s legal team point out that his uncle, Cyril Tallio Sr., was also at the party where Mack was killed. DNA testing has said he “cannot be excluded” as a suspect. Cyril Tallio, Sr. died in 2014.

In their reasons for judgment, the B.C. Court of Appeal judges said further, more modern testing could also differentiate Tallio’s DNA from that of a relative who is “another potential suspect.”

“It is in the interests of justice to allow the testing to occur,” the judgment reads.

The RCMP will escort the latest DNA sample to the Netherlands Forensic Institute in The Hague for testing. It is known as one of the world’s leading forensic labratories.

– With files from Canadian Press

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

Just Posted

Cariboo ranchers, lodge operators say Indigenous land title shuts them out

Tsilhqot’in jurisdiction affects grazing, access to private property

B.C. government eyes antlerless moose harvest increase in bid to save caribou

Antlerless moose hunts reduce predation for threatened mountain caribou, says ministry

BC SPCA team helps discover new feline virus after outbreak at Quesnel shelter

Fechavirus is a kind of parvovirus, which makes cats and kittens very sick

COVID-19 highlights lack of connectivity in First Nations communities

Many don’t have access required to utilize online platforms, says First Nations Technology Council

Commercial salmon fisheries delayed for Bella Coola area

DFO notice says Area C gill net fisheries in Area 8 have been delayed until June 15

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

VIDEO: Internal investigation into aggressive arrest by Kelowna Mountie

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

John Horgan says COVID-19 restrictions won’t be eased regionally

B.C. Liberals urge ‘tailored’ response based on infections

Feds get failing grade for lack of action plan on anniversary of MMIWG report

‘Instead of a National Action Plan, we have been left with a Lack-of-Action Plan’

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Greater Victoria drive-thru window smashed after man receives burger without mustard

Greater Victoria Wendy’s staff call police after man allegedly rips Plexiglas barrier off window

Murder charge upgraded in George Floyd case, 3 other cops charged

Floyd’s family and protesters have repeatedly called for criminal charges against all four officers

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo shore

DFO marine mammal rescue unit was en route as whale broke free from prawn trap line

Most Read