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Donald Marshall Jr.

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  • Pages: 4
  • Word count: 863
  • Category: crime

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Shortly before Midnight on May 28, 1971,in Sydney Nova Scotia Donald Marshall, Jr., a 17-year-old Micmac, and Sandy Seale, a 17-year-old Black, met by chance and were walking through Wentworth Park in Sydney when they met two other men, Roy Ebsary, 59, a former ship’s cook, and James (Jimmy) MacNeil, 25, an unemployed laborer. Marshall and Scale had an altercation with Ebsary and MacNeil. Which triggered a deadly over reaction in the drunken and dangerous Ebsary. Ebsary stabbed Seale in the stomach. He then lunged at Marshall, cutting him on the arm. Although Marshall’s wound was superficial, Seale died less than a day later. The four Sydney police officers that initially responded to the report of the stabbing, Constables Leo Mroz, Howard Dean, Richard Walsh and Martin MacDonald – did not do their job correctly. They did not cordon off the crime scene; search the area or question witnesses. None of the four officers dispatched to the scene even remained there to protect the area after Seale had been taken to the hospital.

Also the police detective John Macintyre very quickly decided that Marshall had stabbed Seale in the course of an argument, even though there was no evidence to support such a conclusion. Maclntyre discounted Marshall’s version of events partly because he considered Marshall a troublemaker and partly because he shared a general sense in Sydney’s White community at the time that Indians were not “worth” as much as Whites. Detective Macintyre’s investigation seemed designed to seek out only evidence to support his theory about the killing and to discount all evidence that challenged it. Ebsary and MacNeil testified against Donald Marshall Jr. stating that he committed the crime. The trial lasted 3 days and then Marshall was Convicted of 1st degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

* Tunnel vision is when police officers assume guilt within moments or a few days of a crime, disregarding all evidence that would point in another other direction. What impact does this have on wrongful conviction cases and why do you think police officers do this? Tunnel vision is a well recognized phenomenon in the criminal justice system. Most inquiries into specific wrongful convictions have noted the role that tunnel vision played in those individual cases of injustice. Detectives/Investigators fall through tunnel vision when they personally deem a criminal guilty and disregard any evidence that proves them other wise. * Do you think people were prejudice of Marshall’s Native background and therefore found it easier to convict him because of this?

Police officers, lawyers, and judges were all prejudice of his Native background. The officials in the case were biased on his ethnicity and quickly convicted Donald due to the fact that he look more “prone” to commit a crime. It would be easier in the eyes of a police officer knowing the fact that a poor native committed the murder compared to an employed white individual. * How much should Marshall have been compensated after spending 11 years in prison? Personally I believe that Marshall should have been compensated at least $14,000,000.00. Donald Marshall spent most of his youth incarcerated, and lost everything he owned. From his family and friends to his status in his community.

Case Decision
Marshall spent 11 years in jail before being acquitted by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal in 1983. A witness came forward to say he had seen another man stab Seale, and several prior witness statements pinpointing Marshall were recanted. In this appeal which acquitted him of the previous murder charge, Marshall was assumed to have lied in his first trial about his and Seale’s activities on the night of Seale’s death. The accusation was that he and Seale had actually approached Ebsary with the intention of robbing him and they were in the park that night. Ebsary was subsequently tried and convicted of manslaughter. When Marshall’s conviction was overturned, the presiding judge placed some blame on Marshall for the miscarriage of justice, calling him “the author of his own misfortune.”

This was viewed as a “serious and fundamental error” by the Royal Commission report. Marshall received $250,000 in compensation. His conviction resulted in changes to The Evidence Act in Canada, which was amended so that any evidence obtained must be presented to the defense on disclosure. Prior to this case, Crown Attorneys had discretion to present what they determined to be pertinent to a case. After 1983, the C.A. must provide all evidence with no determination on its usefulness. The rationale of the law is that it is more appropriate for the defense to determine what may or may not assist an accused.


* Reluctant Hero: The Donald Marshall Story :: Genuine Pictures. (n.d.). Genuine Pictures. Retrieved from http://genuinepictures.com/productions/Reluctant_Hero_The_Donald_Marshall_Story.html
Search | Crime Magazine. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.crimemagazine.com/search/node/canadian%20crim

* Donald Marshall, Jr. Biography, Donald Marshall, Jr. Bio, Donald Marshall, Jr. Photos, Videos, Wallpapers, News. (n.d.). IN offers Songs, Music, Videos, Games, Movie, Celebs, Download, E Mail, News, Devotion, Search Online “IN.com”. Retrieved from http://www.in.com/donald-marshall-jr/biography-77031.html

* Native Leaders of Canada – Donald Marshall, Sr. (n.d.). New Federation House – Maison Nouvelle Fédération. Retrieved from http://www.newfederation.org/Native_Leaders/Bios/Marshall.htm

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