OTTAWA, Ont. - A prosecutor says Romeo Phillion did not have an iron-clad alibi that would have automatically cleared him of a 1967 murder conviction.
Prosecutor Hilary McCormack told an Ontario Superior Court justice today that Phillion has given multiple accounts of his whereabouts during the stabbing death of an Ottawa man four decades ago.
McCormack was rebutting arguments by Phillion's lawyers that their client's Charter rights had been violated through his wrongful conviction, and she disputed the notion that police and prosecutors unfairly withheld key evidence that might have cleared him.
The Ontario Court of Appeal last year overturned Phillion's murder conviction for the 1967 stabbing death of Ottawa firefighter Leopold Roy.
It ordered a new trial, but the court made it clear it had not concluded Phillion was innocent.
McCormack also disputed the assertion that Phillion had been deprived of his liberty while serving almost 32 years for murder, because he was also serving 16 years for two robberies at that time.
Phillion has been free on bail pending appeal since 2003. But his lawyers argue that Phillion should be arraigned for the crime one more time, so that he can formally plead not guilty.
Phillion's lawyers are making that argument because the Crown has said it will simply withdraw the charge against Phillion and abandon a new murder prosecution. That would mean no new trial - and no chance for Phillion to plead not guilty.
Phillion's lawyers say such an "inconclusive conclusion" would violate his Charter rights and "feed a climate of suspicion" that he was in fact guilty.