Court gives directions for Tallio murder appeal

Phillip James Tallio as a teenager in the early 1980s. The latest step in his appeal of his conviction for murdering a child in Bella Coola 35 years ago came on Wednesday with the B.C. Court of Appeal issuing directions.


The B.C. Court of Appeal has issued directions on how the appeal of a man convicted in the murder of a child 35 years ago is to proceed.

In November 1983, Philip James Tallio pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of the 22-month old girl in Bella Coola and received a life sentence with no parole eligibility for 10 years. He remains in prison but maintains his innocence.

Last year, the B.C. Court of Appeal granted Tallio an extension of deadline to file an appeal of his conviction. The appeal involves an application by the accused to withdraw his guilty plea.

The move came after samples taken during the victim’s autopsy were discovered at B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver in 2011. At the request of UBC’s Innocence Project, the RCMP sent some of those samples for DNA testing.

In March, Tallio was granted permission by the court for further DNA testing, the results of which are expected to be an issue during the appeal.

In addition, Tallio is alleging that his lawyer didn’t give him proper advice, in particular regarding an alleged incriminating statement he made to a psychiatrist. Tallio says he never gave a statement to the psychiatrist.

Tallio is also arguing that at the time of the guilty plea, his cognitive capacity was such that he didn’t understand what was happening.

The accused is expected to rely on more than 50 affidavits, including affidavits from himself and a former police officer who is critical of the police investigation.

On Wednesday, the B.C. Court of Appeal gave several directions on how the case is to proceed.

The court said that it was “common ground” that Tallio and the Crown would be seeking to cross-examine a number of people about their affidavits and that the determination of the appeal will likely involve judgments of credibility and reliability.

The directions include that Tallio is to provide the Crown with a “case synopsis” setting out the evidence he intends to rely on.

The Crown will advise Tallio of any objections it has to the admissibility of evidence he relies on and vice versa.



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