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