On August 9, 2007 Nicole "Nyki" Kish was celebrating her twenty-first birthday with friends in Toronto. They were pulled into an altercation involving two men and other "street kids". During the next few chaotic minutes, one of the men, Ross Hammond was stabbed in the chest. Nyki also received a serious stab wound to her arm. Mr. Hammond died of his injury several days later.
Because Nyki and her friends stayed at the scene seeking medical help for her injury, they were the only ones arrested. The other participants fled. The incident is alleged to have started when an attempt to solicit money from the men was rudely spurned with a suggestion that money could be earned in a sexual manner. Toronto had been plagued by "aggressive panhandling" at that time, and thus the incident drew a great deal of media attention. When Mr. Hammond passed on the police were under massive pressure to make an arrest. Nyki's three companions were all American citizens, so as the only Canadian arrested, she would have to do. She was formally charged with murder even though no witness saw the actual stabbing of Mr. Hammond or could even pick her out of a line up.
Given the negative press, Nyki's counsel advised a bench trial thinking a professional jurist would be fairer than a jury. This proved a tragic error as a guilty verdict was entered and subsequently upheld on appeal. The only positive aspect is that unlike a jury verdict the bench trial requires a detailed written verdict spelling out the judge's reasoning. This has been the basis for disputing the verdict ever since.
This site provides access to several articles summarizing the case and proving Nyki's innocence, along with the verdict itself and searchable trial transcripts so that you can judge for yourself. Please take the time to examine this material, I'm sure you'll be as appalled as I have been for nearly a decade.
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