A Calgary father is outraged to learn one of four men convicted in the swarming death of his son is once again trying to fight that conviction.
In June 2016, a jury found Assmar Shlah guilty of the second-degree murder of Lukas Strasser-Hird.
That conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada in November 2019.
Now, Global News has learned Shlah’s defence plans to apply for a Ministerial Review of the conviction.
Strasser-Hird was kicked, stabbed and beaten by a group of men in an alley outside a Calgary nightclub in November 2013. He died hours later in hospital.
During the trial, court heard Shlah was a skilled soccer player.
The shoes he wore the night of Strasser-Hird’s attack were blood-stained.
Shlah maintained the blood was his own but his story changed a few times.
When he was arrested in 2013, he told police they wouldn’t find Strasser-Hird’s blood on his shoes, “not even a fleck.”
He later testified he got a bloody nose and that’s what caused the bloodstain on the shoes.
Shlah also said it was possible he stepped in Strasser-Hird’s blood when he was in the alley but maintained he didn’t participate in the attack.
Forensic testing revealed the blood on Shlah’s right shoe was Strasser-Hird’s.
His DNA was also found on Shlah’s left shoe.
Read more: The final homecoming of Lukas Strasser-Hird
Lawyers for Shlah have now obtained a court order from the Court of Queen’s Bench for the release of Shlah’s shoes for further testing.
Depending on the results of those tests, defence plans to apply for a Ministerial Review of Shlah’s conviction under section 696 of the Criminal Code of Canada.
According to the federal justice department website, if the Minister concludes that a miscarriage of justice likely occurred, the minister may grant the convicted person a remedy and return the case to the courts – either referring the case to a court of appeal to be heard as a new appeal or directing that a new trial be held. The minister may also refer a question to the court of appeal in the appropriate province.
The website also states if the minister decides there is a reasonable basis to conclude that a miscarriage of justice likely occurred — it does not amount to a declaration that the convicted person is innocent. Rather, such a decision leads to a case being returned to the judicial system, where the relevant legal issues may be determined by the courts according to the law.
Strasser-Hird’s father, Dale Hird, told Global News he was shocked to learn about the possible review.
He said when the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed Shlah’s appeal, it was the end of the road.
“I thought we were done,” he said. “When does this end? I’ve never heard of anything like this.”
Hird said he was told Ministerial Reviews are very rare and infrequently granted, but he can’t help but worry.
“There should be no chance. It should be done until his parole hearing.”
Three other men were found guilty in the case; Nathan Gervais was convicted of first-degree murder, Franz Cabrera was convicted of second-degree murder and Joch Pouk was convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter.
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