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Saturday
Nov102012

Nyki Kish Remains Behind Bars After Questionable Conviction

Poet, songwriter and community activist Nicole “Nyki” Kish was convicted on March 1, 2011 of second degree murder for allegedly stabbing to death Ross Hammond in Toronto Canada, on August 8, 2007.

The physical altercation that resulted in Hammond’s death began when a women identified as Faith Watts allegedly asked for money from George Dranichak and Hammond. Dranichak testified at the preliminary hearing and at the trial that he and Hammond had responded to Watts with sexual derogatory remarks, such as telling her that she must perform sexual acts if she wanted the money.  Dranichak admitted that this was the initial cause of the altercation.

The request for money quickly escalated for a exchange of heated words a large brawl that involved both Dranick, Hammond, Watts, Watt’s boyfriend, Kish, and other unnamed individuals, both males and females.

The brawl took place at the Toronto intersection of Queen and Bathurst, a very well lit area with shops and restaurants on both sides.

At the conclusion of the brawl, Hammond lay bleeding having sustained 5 stab wounds to the chest, and several others on the back. The one that took Hammond’s life was a cut that completely penetrated the anterior right ventricle of his heart. Nyki was the only other one who has been injured by the knife, with a stab wound to her arm.

The entirety of the incidents that occurred on August 8, 2007 can be viewed here: case overview

The difficulty surrounding this case revolves around the variety of recollections of what occurred that night. Prosecuting Crown, Warren Thompson, called upon 20 witnesses to testify, however, because of the nature of the incident, many of the recollections and accounts of what transpired were inconclusive and contradicting.

Few things were known for certain. The first one was that the knife that was used to stab Hammond was not Nykis, but former co-accused Faith Watts. Faith testified that it was indeed her knife and she produced the knife after becoming terrified for her life and the life of her boyfriend Doug, who was being beaten unconscious by Hammond at the time. She also testified that either Dranichak or Hammond quickly disarmed her.

The second piece of information that we know for certain is that the there was DNA evidence of both Nyki and Hammond on the knife; the same knife was used to stab Hammond and Nyki.

And lastly, the mot important piece of information is that there was only one miniscule piece of Hammond’s DNA present on Nyki’s sole of her shoe. Whereas, Watts had several spots of DNA on her boots and two spots on her shorts.

You can listen to the Mother of Nicole Kish speak out Here

There are several pieces of this case that do not add up and truly show a disconnection between what really happened and what Nyki is being changed with.

Detective Sergeant Gary Giroux was the detective assigned to the case. Giroux stated on the stand that he based his murder charges against Nyki because of the eyewitness testimonies of molly Stopford and Jonathan, both of which admitted later on in the trial that it was possible that they could be interchanging two, maybe three girls that she had seen involved in the brawl.

With all the confusion surrounding what actually happened that night through the eyes of the witnesses, would it not be easier and more accurate to view the surveillance tapes that were located on both sides of the street? The defense thought so, however, when asked to present the video footage in court it was determined that both tapes were either lost or recorded over while in police custody or under police supervision. One VHS tape from a Jewelry store was placed into an evidence box, and by the time it came into Giroux’s possession, the video was no longer present anywhere in the Toronto Police Department.

The second video, which was taken from One of a Kind Pasta, the only camera that could possibly see who stabbed Hammond, was recorded over by surveillance specialist Detective Olver, which was deemed unacceptable negligence on behalf of the Toronto Police Department.

The DNA test, and testimony from Faith Watts is another facet to this case that is very unusual. Justice Nordhiemer came to the conclusion that even though Watts testified to be the owner of the knife and had several DNA spots on her clothes, she was not the murderer, but rather, it was Nyki who had only one small piece of DNA on the side of her shoe. It seems very hard to believe that a woman can overpower a man and stab him five times in the chest with no contact, and no trace of DNA except for a minuscule spot on the sole of her shoe, all while already suffering a stab wound to her arm.

Nordheimer attributed the DNA findings as being the “limitations of Physical evidence,” and while he acknowledged that the knife belonged to Watts, it most likely changed hands several times before it was fatally used. Nordheimer focused less on the physical DNA evidence and more on Nyki being stabbed, stating that there is an “irresistible inference” that she must of killed Hammond.

The final interesting and inconclusive piece of information about this case is the “Unidentified Male.” There is a substantial amount of evidence that has come forward to suggest that the fatal stabbing that claimed Hammond’s life involved three males, not a female. Cam Bordignon testified that he recalled a man shout out, “you die tonight.” Shaun Park also witnessed this man pull up his shirt and showed off a stab wound that he received in his chest. Park recalled that the man said that it didn’t matter, that he had been stabbed in the chest 19 times.

This raises the question about the unidentified male’s motives and the possibility of a second knife that was present in the brawl. Watts testified that the knife that she originally produced that night was serrated, which is consistent to the wounds inflicted to Hammond’s Back. However, the wounds on Hammond’s chest, including the one that claimed his life, had little to no resembling characteristics. In fact, Dr. Pollan, the doctor who preformed the autopsy could not rule out the possible of a second knife.

Nyki was convicted and sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole for 12 years.

“…innocent people will continue to be damned to this until more Canadians are made aware of the workings of our judicial system and vital changes are made. I’m ashamed that our police forces tunnel vision to prosecute me against all obvious facts will leave many without true closure and equally ashamed that our media is not the public watchdog it ought to be.” -Nyki Kish

You can read more about this case at Injustice Everywhere or at Free Nyki. Both of these websites give a thorough account of the events on that occurred on August 8, 2011 and all actions following. These websites also offer collections of her music and writings. The best way to keep up on recent developments in Nyki’s life and trial is to look at the Free Nyki facebook page.

Tuesday
Jan032012

Nyki’s Nightmare Needs to End in 2012

            Nyki’s Nightmare Needs to End in 2012 by Matt Baratta December 30, 2011                         

On October 25, 2011, I wrote an article titled “Amanda Knox Is Finally Free.”  In this article, I stated, “I want to start out by saying that this is the greatest injustice that I have ever had any knowledge of.”  Unfortunately, I have come across another case that is very similar to Amanda’s.  This one involves a Canadian citizen, Nicole (“Nyki”) Kish, who was convicted of murder in Toronto.  As of this writing, Nyki has served 3.5 years of in house arrest and 9 months of jail time in a maximum security facility.  I did not learn about Amanda Knox until the appeal was well under way so I did not have an opportunity to get personally involved in her case other than to make a donation to her defense fund.  When I learned about Nyki’s case through one of the Amanda Knox support sites on Facebook, I decided to get personally involved and try and help Nyki and family.  Fortunately, Nyki has very strong support from her family and some devoted friends.  My contact has been Nyki’s mother, Tina, who is extremely dedicated and loyal to Nyki.  She has a four year old sister, Toria, who is very supportive and outspoken in claiming Nyki’s innocence.  Nyki also enjoys great support from her father and grandmother. 

Nyki’s nightmare began on her 21st birthday, August, 9, 2007.  She was out with friends in Toronto celebrating her birthday when an altercation broke out and she suffered stab wounds and Ross Hammond was stabbed to death.  Despite the fact that there is no physical evidence that links Nyki to the murder except she was in the vicinity, Nyki was accused and convicted of second degree murder which carries a life sentence with no possibility of parole for 12 years.  When trying to determine how Nyki could have been convicted consider the following: 1) There was testimony in the trial of Nyki screaming out for someone to call 911 before the major violence broke out, 2) There was none of the deceased’s (Ross Hammond) DNA on Nyki, 3) Another person who was present, Faith Watts, did have Mr. Hammond’s DNA on her and she was sent back to the US without being incarcerated, 4) There were reports of someone else discussing their involvement in Mr. Hammond’s murder but they have not been questioned or incarcerated, 5) not one witness at the trial could positively identify Nyki as the person who stabbed Mr. Hammond and 6) Two surveillance videos that could have cleared Nyki disappeared even though the police had access to them before the trial. 

Nyki did not receive a trial by jury.  Instead, she was convicted by one judge who spent very little time in rendering his verdict compared to other comparable cases.  Lastly, the media portrayed the case as the Panhandler Murder and presented Nyki as being guilty.  Nyki is anything but a panhandler as she was a writer, poet, singer and community activist before being jailed.  She also started a nonprofit business to provide books for prisoners since the Canadian government does not fund books in prisons.  Lastly, she had no previous criminal record or history of violence.

Nyki is very close with her four year old sister, Toria.  As I researched this case, I kept asking myself how does Toria feel and how can this be explained to her?  How does Tina explain to Toria that Nyki is being punished for a crime that she did not commit? How do you explain to a four year old that life is not fair and justice does not always happen?  How do you encourage your young daughter to do the right things when she sees her sister wrongly jailed?  I emphasize this because so many people are hurt when someone is wrongly incarcerated.  In Nyki’s case, her entire family and group friends do not get to experience her positive impact since she is away from them.  To get bail, six family members (her mother, her mother’s husband, her father, her grandmother and her mother’s two sisters) agreed to have a second mortgage put on their homes so Nyki could get in house arrest instead of jail time for 3.5 years leading up to the trial.   

There was testimony in the trial of Nyki screaming out for someone to call 911 before the major violence broke out.  Just ask yourself a logical question.  If Nyki was planning to murder someone, would she be screaming out for someone to call 911or would she want to keep it quiet?  A guilty person would want to keep it quiet and an innocent person would be calling for assistance to avoid violence.  How do we explain to Toria that Nyki did exactly what she should have done but is being punished for it?

There was none of Ross Hammond’s DNA on Nyki.  How can this be possible if Nyki murdered him as accused?  The only way this could be possible would be if Nyki threw the knife at Mr. Hammond but since the testimony says that Mr. Hammond was stabbed, this is not possible.  The newspaper The Dominion published an article on June 17, 2011, titled Convicted by the Media, Sentenced by the Courts http://www.dominionpaper.ca/articles/4004 that offers some good insight.  The part that really hit me was “Out of the 20 witnesses to testify at the trial, not one identified Kish or saw anyone stabbed that night. In rendering his verdict, Justice Nordheimer addressed this as being inconsequential, saying, “In this case we are not dealing with direct identification but rather with circumstantial identification.”  The article quotes the judge who determined Nyki’s fate and admits the evidence was circumstantial.  How do we explain to Toria that the judge admits there was no proof that Nyki is guilty but she was convicted anyway?

Another person who was present, Faith Watts, did have Mr. Hammond’s DNA on her and she was sent back to the US without being incarcerated.  Faith Watts owned the knife that was the murder weapon and this was stated in court.  This combined with Ms. Watt’s having Mr. Hammonds’ DNA on her person should be enough to at least investigate the possibility that someone other than Nyki Kish committed the murder.  Here is another quote from The Dominion article referenced above “Two witnesses did testify to seeing a woman in possession of a knife. Kish’s former co-accused, Faith Watts, testified to having pulled out a knife during the altercation and said she had done so out fear for her life and the life of her boyfriend, who witnesses testify was beaten unconscious. Additionally, a substantial amount of DNA was found on Watts’s clothing. However, Nordheimer attributed the DNA findings as being the “limitations of physical evidence,” and while he acknowledged that the knife belonged to Watts, he goes so far as to suggest the knife may have changed hands three times before its fatal use. Stating his case for conviction, he focused on Kish being stabbed, saying that since Kish had been stabbed, there’s an “irresistible inference” that she must have killed Hammond.”   How do you convict someone of murder on an “irresistible inference”?  How do we explain to Toria that her sister is in jail because of the judge’s gut feeling?

There were reports of someone else discussing their involvement in Mr. Hammond’s murder but they have not been questioned or incarcerated.  It seems as though, the prosecution decided to pursue Nyki Kish from the very beginning and had no desire to fully investigate the murder of Ross Hammond.  How else can it be explained that two possible suspects were not investigated in more detail?  This is so similar to the Amanda Knox case where the prosecution focused their efforts on finding a way to convict Amanda instead of searching for the murder(s) of Meredith Kerchner.  Could this be because Nyki was a community activist?  How do we explain to Toria that the police did not fully investigate the crime that her sister is currently jail for supposedly committing?

Two surveillance videos that could have cleared Nyki disappeared even though the police had access to them before Nyki’s trial.  How can this happen with today’s technology?  How can this be overlooked in the judge’s verdict?  This is evidence that could have completely cleared Nyki.  How do we explain to Toria that there was evidence that could have cleared her sister that vanished?

Not one witness at the trial could positively identify Nyki as the person who stabbed Mr. Hammond.  Let me sum this up, we have no eye witness to the murder, no motive for Nyki to murder Ross Hammond and the murder weapon belongs to another woman who was sent back to the United States.   How did this case even make it to trail to begin with?  How do we explain to Toria that the evidence does not point to her sister being involved in a crime but she is in jail anyway?

After researching this case, I have determined that there is so much reasonable doubt that Nyki Kish cannot possibly be guilty of second degree murder.  In the absolute worst case scenario, I could see Nyki possibly acting out of self defense since she suffered stab wounds herself and was described as hysterical when this happened.  I could see the possibility of temporary insanity given the word hysterical was used to describe Nyki’s state of mind after she was stabbed.  The bottom line is that no one saw her commit the act, she had no motive to commit the act and she did not own the murder weapon but someone else who was present that night did.  And how do we answer the question about the surveillance video that vanished?  Was anyone charged and convicted of stabbing Nyki Kish?  I conclude that Nyki Kish is innocent and should be released from prison as soon as it is legally possible and be reunited with her mom, sister, father and grandmother in addition to all of her friends.

Lastly, I would like to ask from assistance from as many of you as possible. There are many ways to assist Nyki and family.  The most obvious way is to contribute to her legal defense fund.  You can do this by checking out http://www.freenyki.org/. This website also gives additional facts about the case and shares some of Nyki’s music and writings.  The writing that affected me the most was her description of the living conditions in the prison http://www.freenyki.org/blog/2011/8/9/life-in-prison.html. You can also keep up with developments in Nyki’s life by looking at the Free Nyki Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/#!/FreeNyki. The best way to support Nyki is to write her to express your support.  When sending mail to Nyki, you must address the letter to Nicole Kish or she will not get your letter.  She likes pictures so she has something to look at other than the walls of her jail cell.  I sent her some pictures of Emerald Lake.  The address is:

Grand Valley, 1575 Homer Watson Blvd,
Kitchener, Ontario
N2P 2C5
Max Unit
Atten: Nicole Kish

Lets hope that 2012 will be the year that Nyki Kish is freed and returned to her family and friends.

 

Friday
Aug122011

Demo Outside GVI

Kitchener, Ontario: In Solidarity With Pelican Bay and Nyki Kish

(Posted on Linchpin.ca)

 From Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity (blog)

On the evening of July 9th, to express solidarity with the hunger strike at Pelican Bay and across California, 30 folks from Southern Ontario gathered in Kitchener for a noise demo at Grand Valley Institution for Women (GVI), a federal women’s prison. We marched with banners, chants, and balloons flapping in the winds to an area near GVI where we could see and communicate directly with folks imprisoned, many of whom were in the yard when we arrived.

Balloons with flyers about the situation in Pelican Bay were released over the grounds. Fireworks were set off, silencing the screws that approached. The screws attempted to try and calm down the excited prisoners in plain view on the grounds. As chants and speeches were yelled, the chain link barbed wire fence separating the two groups became much less significant, as the isolation was broken for a few minutes. Prisoners yelled and whooped along with the chants that included: NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE, FUCK THE POLICE… SCREWS, PIGS, MURDERERS…FUCK ALL PRISONS, SMASH THE STATE, ALL THESE WALLS ARE GONNA BREAK and…NO PRISONS, NO BORDERS, FUCK LAW AND ORDER. After many fireworks, speeches, and chants the group decided to depart, but only after the folks inside proclaimed that they were on lock down and 5 cruisers arrived.

The demands of the prisoners at the Pelican Bay SHU were read, after which the prisoners at GVI responded with cheers. A part of the solidarity statement by Corcoran prisoners was read. A statement was read in support of Nyki Kish, a woman locked up at GVI. “FREE NYKI KISH” was chanted.

Nyki is an artist, musician and community activist from Hamilton who was recently convicted of 2nd degree murder and sentenced to 12 years in prison. In 2007 a street altercation in Toronto left one person stabbed to death. The State politicized the case, using the violence as a justification for further crackdowns on poor people. Nyki maintains her innocence, and was convicted on March 1, 2011, with no evidence other than that she was there and she was stabbed. She is currently in the max unit at GVI, awaiting the appeal process.

Solidarity and love to Nyki Kish, prisoners on strike at Pelican Bay, and prisoners in struggle for dignity everywhere!

more info:
freenyki.org

prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com

 

http://linchpin.ca/English/Kitchener-Ontario-Solidarity-Pelican-Bay-Nyki-Kish

Tuesday
May172011

Eating in the Name of! (the Free Nyki Potluck)

On May 15th, The Sky Dragon Centre on King Williams St. opened it doors for the Free Nyki potluck, which turned into one hell of a feast. Members of the community came out to show their support, their amazing homemade food, and again a generosity so touching that words cannot describe. The food was fantastic, sprits were high and Nyki’s original music had accompanied most of the event throughout the afternoon. Additional entertainment was provided and loved by both Ronald Weihs with selected readings from a play about the legendary “gentlemen robber” Bill Miner and storytelling from Nyki’s 4 year old sister, Victoria.        

 

 

 


Monday
May162011

Rally Against Police Brutality

On April 30th members of the Free Nyki Campaign join members of the community to protest police brutality. The day was filled with heart wrenching testimony and righteous indignation that demonstrated the extent in which many have been adversely affected by an apathetic and unaccountable system. The Chinnery family organized the event wonderfully. Tragically they had lost their 19-year-old/brother Andreas, who was killed by the Hamilton police in an unprovoked and unjustifiable shooting. Our hearts, our love and our solidarity go out to the Chinnery family.