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Convict cleared in niece's death

Oct. 15, 2007 at 9:51 PM

TORONTO, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- A Canadian who spent 12 years in prison for the death of his 4-year-old niece was acquitted Monday by an appellate court.

William Mullins-Johnson, 37, had been convicted of sexually assaulting and killing the girl in 1993 while babysitting at her home in Sault Ste. Marie. While the Ontario Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Canada had upheld the conviction, a review found the pathologist in the case had made errors in his autopsy, prompting the Ontario appellate panel to issue the acquittal with prosecutors agreeing with the decision.

The National Post reported that Dr. Michael Pollanen testified that the girl was not murdered and there had been no sexual assault. The cause of death is "unascertainable," Pollanen said.

"It is regrettable that as a result of flawed pathological evidence you were wrongly convicted and spent so long in custody," Justice Dennis O'Connor told Mullins-Johnson, who testified Monday he didn't expect to survive in prison.

"I expected to get my throat cut," said Mullins-Johnson, who has been free on bail since September, 2005.

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