Acquitted in 4 Hours

Black and white photo of murder victim Janko Naglic
Murder victim Janko Naglic

Although it took the jury less than four hours to acquit Ivan Mendez-Romero of killing his lover Janko Naglic, and no other person has ever been charged, Toronto police consider Naglic’s murder to be “case closed.”

Naglic, 58, was murdered on October 27, 2004 and found in his home on Balliol Street. Naglic was renowned in the Gay Village, not only for his outspoken personality and for his leather and denim bar, The Barn/Stables at 418 Church Street, but for his AIDS fundraising and community work. The Barn had just celebrated its 29th anniversary before Naglic was murdered.

The Barn and Stables gay bar on Church Street
The Barn and Stables gay bar on Church Street

Naglic and Mendez-Romero, 36, were well-known and liked in their neighbourhood, allowing neighbours to use their pool. A neighbouring bar owner, George Pratt, said Naglic was “a lone wolf” who gave back to the community by sponsoring Pride Week events and donating to AIDS organizations.

Naglic, who died of asphyxiation as a result of duct tape around his nose and mouth, was found dead by Mendez-Romero who called 911. Police found a glass back door was partially ajar but there was no sign of forced entry Nothing in the house was disturbed or out of place. Mr. Naglic had $800.00 in his pocket. None of the valuables in the house were taken or disturbed and there was no sign of a struggle.

Black and white photo of Ivan Mendez-Romero
Ivan Mendez-Romero

On August 27, 2005, police announced they had arrested Mendez-Romero for the murder in a “high-risk takedown”, although Toronto homicide Det. Wayne Banks later described the arrest as “without incident.” Mendez-Romero rejected a plea offer of manslaughter. “I told them, I’m not guilty. I’ll go to jail for 25 years and keep fighting for my innocence,” Mendez-Romero said. He claims to have been with his wife on the night of the murder.

Mendez-Romero reportedly dissolved his first marriage, which Naglic knew about, after three years and married a second woman, which Naglic found out later about and eventually tolerated. As a result, Mendez-Romero said he did not see a lot of Naglic for about a year before the murder. Mendez-Romero and his wife divorced during the 30 month he was in custody.

Black and white photo of murder victim Janko Naglic
murder victim Janko Naglic

During the trial, many people testified that Naglic told them Mendez-Romero had twice threatened to kill him, and it would later be called “trial by gossip and circumstance” in the press. The defence called no witnesses, and on March 4, 2008, the jury acquitted Mendez-Romero in just four hours.

Mendez-Romero later sued Naglic’s estate and Toronto police.

 


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Janko Naglic
Age: 58
Gender: Male
Date of Death: October 27, 2004
Manner of Death: Asphyxiation
Location: 585 Balliol Street
Suspect Name: Ivan Mendez-Romero
Conviction & Sentence: Acquitted

Absolutely Thrilled

Google Streetview of Thatcher Avenue
Google Streetview of Thatcher Avenue

Apparently, fifty-five-year-old Dennis McDonald inspired such terror in his killer, he was stabbed 10 times. In the back. Then he bled to death. The killer, 19-year-old Guy Simon, was “absolutely thrilled” when he was acquitted of the murder.

On December 18, 1989, moving company owner McDonald was attacked by Simon, who was 17 at the time. As a young offender, he could not be named in the press. However, the Crown successfully petitioned to have Simon tried as an adult. McDonald was able to call police for help after the attack, but was dead on arrival at the hospital.

Simon was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, but was committed to trial on second-degree murder.

Simon testified that he had worked for McDonald and visited McDonald at his Thatcher Avenue home to pick up his paycheque. Simon and McDonald had a drink and McDonald grabbed Simon by the crotch.

Simon pushed McDonald away but Simon said McDonald pulled a machete out from under his bed. Simon then pulled out his own knife and repeatedly stabbed McDonald in the back and chest in self-defence, he said during trial. Simon called 911 the next day and told police he wanted to turn himself in.

The jury took less than two hours to find Simon not guilty on February 22, 1992.

 


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Dennis McDonald
Age: 55
Gender: Male
Date of Death: December 18, 1989
Manner of Death: Stabbed
Location: Thatcher Avenue
Suspect Name: Guy Simon
Conviction & Sentence: acquitted

Not Guilty Verdict

Accused Eric Swanson photo by Boris Spremo
Accused Eric Swanson photo by Boris Spremo

On August 6, 1986, Edwin Howard Kasdan was found dead by his parents, who had become concerned after not hearing from him on Wednesday morning: he met his parents for dinner every Wednesday night. He had died August 4.

Black and white photo of murder victim Edwin Kasdan

Kasdan, 55, was a real estate lawyer. He was found fully clothed on the living room floor of his  541 Blackthorne Avenue condominium. An autopsy showed he had been beaten with a blunt instrument and died from loss of blood and shock caused by multiple head injuries. There were no signs of a struggle.

On October 2, 1986, police announced the arrest of a 17-year-old who was charged with second-degree murder. The Young Offenders Act prevented the naming of the suspect in media. The youth was granted $500 bail in March 1987, before the trial, although the Crown did try to have the bail revoked. He would later be identified as Eric Swanson because he was tried in adult court.

Accused Eric Swanson photo by Frank Lennon
Accused Eric Swanson photo by Frank Lennon

Kasdan had been struck 24 times with a heavy glass ashtray. “The killing was an intentional, brutal and one-sided attack,” said assistant Crown attorney Kathryn Hawke.

Police said fingerprints matching Swanson were found in the kitchen. Blood was spattered through the bedroom and bathroom where Swanson had gone to clean up. A pair of jeans too small for Kasdan were found on the bed. Defence argued Swanson was disoriented after the murder, but the Crown argued that the clean-up indicated he was not.

Swanson admitted killing Kasdan. Swanson’s lawyer said Kasdan was “in search of prey” when he met Swanson. He said he was acting in self-defense. The Crown said Kasdan would not have presented a threat after the first few blows. After the first few blows, Swanson said he escaped the apartment but Kasdan chased him and pulled him back into the apartment.

Black and white photo of murder victim Edwin Kasdan

After the murder, Swanson was treated in hospital for injuries to his hands. He never regained full use of his hands.

On March 30, 1988, Swanson was found not-guilty by a jury after six hours of deliberation.

Black and white photo of murder victim Edwin Kasdan
Edwin Kasdan, University of Toronto

 


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Edwin Howard Kasdan
Age: 55
Gender: Male
Date of Death: August 4, 1986
Manner of Death: Blunt force trauma
Location: 541 Blackthorne Ave
Suspect Name: Eric Swanson
Conviction & Sentence: Not guilty

Self-Defense Stabbing

Photograph of Centenary Hospital, Toronto
Photograph of Centenary Hospital, Toronto

Phillip Robert (Barbara) Filshie was murdered by his common-law wife, Joyce Lorraine Filshie, 47, in a domestic dispute on December 20, 1984.

Phillip had been seeing a doctor at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry (now named the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) for “a long time.” At the time, the Clarke was the only institution that could authorize government-funded sex reassignment surgery, and was considered archaic, unsupportive and sometimes outright hostile to people seeking gender reassignment.

Phillip, a 51-year-old warehouse manager who was transitioning from female to male, was stabbed in the chest in their Kingston Road townhouse and was dead on arrival at Centenary Hospital. Joyce faced second-degree murder.

Photograph of Clarke Institute Of Psychiatry Gender Identity Clinic By Mateen Mahboubi
Photograph of Clarke Institute Of Psychiatry Gender Identity Clinic By Mateen Mahboubi

Joyce said she did not intend to kill Phillip, but that during an argument Phillip began to hit her. She grabbed a knife in an attempt to keep Phillip at bay, and that when she turned, she accidentally punctured Phillip. She ran to the neighbour’s and pounded on their door, asking for help and shouting “Come quickly! I’ve stabbed Phil!”

When police arrived, they found Joyce in the kitchen with blood on her hands, crouched over Phillip.

During trial, Joyce said she and Phillip loved each other and lived as husband and wife. Defense lawyer Mike Moldaver argued that Joyce was defending herself from Phillip’s attack, and that her intent had not been to harm Phillip. They had been together since 1976.

Then defense lawyer, now Justice Mike Moldaver
Then defense lawyer, now Justice Mike Moldaver

Hillsdon Smith said “In 30 years experience, I’ve never convinced myself that I’ve ever seen an accidental knife wound.”

Their daughter, 29-year-old Cindy-Lou Thibodeau, said in court she was devastated to learn Joyce was not her natural mother, and was “still trying to deal” with the revelations that Phillip had once been female and was in fact her birth mother.

The jury deliberated less than three hours before acquitting Joyce. “Thank God, thank God,” Joyce said after being found not guilty.

 


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Phillip Robert (Barbara) Filshie
Age: 51
Gender: Male
Date of Death: December 20, 1984
Manner of Death: Stabbed
Location: Kingston Road
Suspect Name: Joyce Lorraine Filshie
Conviction & Sentence: Acquitted

First Murder Of 1984

Scarborough General Hospital where Christine Clifford died
Scarborough General Hospital where Christine Clifford died

On the night of January 6, 1984, a lover’s triangle went very wrong for twenty-nine-year-old Christine Lavery Clifford. She was stabbed to death. Hers was the first murder of the year. Clifford was attacked in a ninth floor apartment of 31 Gilder Drive. She had been stabbed six times in the chest and back. She died while undergoing surgery at Scarborough General Hospital just a few hours later.

A second woman who was in the apartment at the time of the killing, Alanna “Maume” Smith, was treated at hospital for a drug overdose and slashed wrists. However, police could not find the weapon that killed Clifford on scene.

Just four days later, police announced they arrested Winnifred Lynn Kennedy, 29, of Flastaff Avenue and charged her with second-degree murder.

All three women had been out drinking at a tavern with a neighbour and when they returned home after picking up Smith’s two-year-old-son, Smith said she took a handful of pills.

Smith said that on the night of the murder, all three women were hired to “perform a lesbian show” for a man named “Dave”, but said she had no recollection if he showed up or even if the show happened. Smith had a criminal record including a conviction of assault with a knife.

Kennedy, who pleaded not guilty, said she awoke from a drunken stupor to find Smith had slit her own wrists and Clifford was stabbed to death on the balcony. Neighbours said they heard a man and woman arguing in the apartment at about the time of Clifford’s death.

Kennedy said she tried to revive Clifford, which explained the blood on her clothes. County Court Judge Karen Weiler acquitted Kennedy of the murder because although there was suspicion that she was the murderer, there was insufficient evidence. “I feel that there were other people who were with the accused that night, who have not been charged and who have not told the entire truth,” Weiler said in her November, 1984 judgement.


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: Christine Lavery Clifford
Age: 29
Gender: Female
Date of Death: January 6, 1984
Manner of Death: Stabbed
Location: 31 Gilder Dr.
Suspect Name: Winnifred Lynn Kennedy
Conviction & Sentence: Acquitted

Stabbed in Allan Gardens

Allan Gardens photo by James Victor Salmon
Allan Gardens photo by James Victor Salmon

George Matthew “Peaches” Roach was murdered in Allan Gardens on October 24, 1981. His killer, a male prostitute named Larry Raymond Perrault, 22, was so compelling in court, one of the female jurors who convicted him visited him later in prison.

Roach, 46, of Edgewood Avenue, was found dead at about 8:30 a.m. on October 24 by a woman walking near the park greenhouse.

On November 9, Perrault was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

Perrault said he never agreed to have sex with Roach because he was not offered money. Instead, he alleged Roach grab his hair. Roach allegedly pulled a knife on Perrault and threatened to kill him if he didn’t perform fellatio. Perrault said he grabbed the knife and stabbed Roach three times in the back.

Allan Gardens visitor Leo Munn points to police chalk marks where George Roach was stabbed. Photo by Gus Carlson, The Sun
Allan Gardens visitor Leo Munn points to police chalk marks where George Roach was stabbed. Photo by Gus Carlson, The Sun

During the trial, Perrault was unable to explain why Roach allegedly put down the knife he had and how, if Roach was attacking him, he was able to stab the man in the back, saying only that he “jabbed” at Roach’s belly a few times. He could not explain why he had no bruises or scratches although Roach allegedly held him tightly by the arm.

A jury of eight men and four women found Perrault guilty of the charge of manslaughter, and he was sentenced to prison for eight years.

Murderer Larry Perrault
Murderer Larry Perrault

Simone Gruenfelder was on Perrault’s jury and during the sentencing phase said she wanted to help the killer after his trial, and when he got out of court. “I cannot go and support everyone,” she told media who asked about how she left about Roach’s family. Gruenfelder said she had been visiting Perrault, who is Indigenous, at least once a week between the end of the criminal trial and the start of the sentencing trial.

Perrault appealed his sentence in 1984, but the appeal was denied.

 


Murder Village Map

 

 

Vital Statistics

Name: George Matthew “Peaches” Roach
Age: 46
Gender: Male
Date of Death: October 24, 1981
Manner of Death: Stabbed
Location: 19 Horticultural Ave
Suspect Name: Richard Brian St. Armand and Larry Raymond Perrault
Conviction & Sentence: Armand was acquitted. Perrault was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to eight years

Outrageous Acquittal

Gabriel Brunet's apartment building at 100 Maitland Street
Gabriel Brunet’s apartment building at 100 Maitland Street

On June 25, 1967, thirty-year-old Gabriel Brunet, a bartender, was murdered in his 100 Maitland Street home after being stabbed 50 times. Although his screams resonated throughout the building, no one went to his aid or called police.

Brunet’s nude body was found by his roommate, Rene Cote, 34, about 45 minutes after the attack, which police determined was around midnight. His was the 5th slaying in Toronto in three weeks. Brunet’s cat, which witnessed the assault, was captured and taken to a local animal shelter.

Gabriel Brunet's distressed cat by John McNeill, Globe and Mail
Gabriel Brunet’s distressed cat by John McNeill, Globe and Mail

A Toronto Star editorial, written June 27, 1967, said, “There is something appalling about such callous indifference to the torture and death of a fellow human being. It is also something relatively new… If this kind of indifference is the price of big city living it is too high a price – and indeed in the long run a fatal one. ”

Police reported the arrest of Dennis Henry Robertson, 23, on July 10. He was found in Calgary and was arrested by police there on another charge after walking into the police station to admit breaking into three homes. Calgary police thought he resembled the sketch issued by Toronto police, and they contacted their counterparts.

Toronto police interviewed Robertson. In his original police confession, Robertson said he asked Brunet for a bed, and then killed him “because he wouldn’t leave me alone.”

His trial for capital murder began on October 20, 1967, but the charge was reduced to non-capital murder by October 25. Robertson said that although he originally admitted killing Brunet to police, it was only because he was tired.

In court, Robertson admitted knowing Brunet and said he had been at the apartment on at least two previous occasions, but denied the murder, saying he was with a man and two women at the time of Brunet’s death.

On December 6, 1967, after nine hours of deliberation, the jury could not reach a verdict. The case was dismissed, and Robertson was tried again in February, 1968.

On February 10, 1968, Robertson was acquitted at his second trial because “he wasn’t cautioned properly by police before making a statement.” Mr. Justice Abraham Lieff of the Ontario Supreme Court directed the jury to acquit Robertson because Justice Lieff threw out the police confession, which formed the basis of the prosecution.

Justice Lieff did not blame the police for the way they took the statement, but said that, when Toronto homicide detectives arrived in Calgary to question him, they should have warned him to disregard his statements to Calgary police, and begin again.

As a result, Robertson was freed. Toronto Police consider the case closed.

 


Murder Village Map

 

 

VITAL STATISTICS

Name: Gabriel Brunet
Age: 30
Gender: Male
Date of Death: June 25, 1967
Manner of Death: Stabbed
Location: 100 Maitland St.
Suspect Name: Dennis Henry Robertson
Conviction & Sentence: Acquitted upon instruction of the Justice

Chef Killed With Whiskey Bottle

Edwin Hotel (New Edwin Hotel) photo from Novae Res Urbis newsletter
Edwin Hotel (New Edwin Hotel) photo from Novae Res Urbis newsletter

In 1957, when 43-year-old Cecil Burns lived at the Edwin Hotel at 650 Queen Street East, it was a little seedy and rundown, with a nightclub on the first floor and a rough clientele.

Burns, a professional chef, had the misfortune of meeting Wayne Ronald Mullen, 20, and inviting him back to his hotel room on February 18, 1957. When Burns came onto Mullen, Mullen hit him multiple times with a whiskey bottle to “repulse his sexual advances” and then fled the scene. Burns was found partially clothed on the blood-soaked bed, dead from a fractured skull and injuries to the brain.

Murder victim Cecil Fred Burns
Murder victim Cecil Fred Burns

Two days later, when Burns’ was missing from work, his coworkers called the hotel front desk and asked them to check on his whereabouts. A chambermaid was sent and upon opening the door, found Burns’ dead body.

Just five hours after Burns was discovered, and after seeing press coverage saying Burns was dead, Mullen walked into the police station, accompanied by his uncle, and turned himself in. “I guess I’m the man you’re looking for… for that Burns thing down at the hotel,” Mullen told police.

Almost three months later, the two day trial before Supreme Court Justice Gale began. Mullen admitted hitting Burns “once or twice” on the head, but he was found not guilty on the charge of capital murder and acquitted.


Vital Statistics

Name: Cecil Fred Burns
Age: 43
Gender: Male
Date of Death: February 18, 1957
Manner of Death: Blunt force trauma
Location: Edwin Hotel, Queen St. East
Suspect Name: Wayne Ronald Mullen
Conviction & Sentence: acquitted