Credits: SUN NEWS NETWORK.
WINNIPEG – Manitoba's highest court has refused to set a recently convicted and imprisoned killer free on bail — at least until his legal team provides clearer reasons about why they believe he's the victim of a wrongful conviction.
Judge Alan MacInnes clearly signalled Thursday that Michael Lynn Pearce, 44, may be freed by the top court once defence lawyers Kathy Bueti, Stacy Soldier and Gerri Wiebe go back to the drawing board and offer the court additional specifics on the nature of Pearce's appeal.
Pearce was convicted by a jury of manslaughter in April for the brutal beating death of his friend and occasional lover Stuart Mark in January 2007.
His lawyers are challenging the jury's verdict, claiming it was unreasonable given the evidence in the unusual homicide case.
The only evidence against Pearce is his unexpected confession to police six months after Mark was found dead in his home and the case had gone cold.
The appeal, as it currently stands, means Pearce is in for a tough fight, MacInnes told Bueti Thursday.
"The question of unreasonable verdict is very much an uphill battle for the accused," MacInnes said.
"There's very compelling reasons as to why the accused could be released — but there's got to be something more than (an appeal based on an) unreasonable verdict.”
Pearce is also appealing the seven-year sentence he was handed two weeks ago. He's being held at the federal prison at Stony Mountain, Alta. He was brought into court in a blue polo shirt and jeans Thursday, looking wrung out.
Jurors heard Pearce beat Mark with a golf club and then left him to die after learning Mark was HIV-positive.
The Crown is opposing bail, stating the appeals court has repeatedly found it would only be granted in exceptional cases.
The public needs to see the jury's finding of guilt — and the resulting prison sentence for Pearce — enforced, prosecutor Dale Harvey said.
"The jury heard everything. They determined he was guilty. In respect to the public interest, he needs to be detained," said Harvey.
It was Pearce who phoned police suggesting he had information about the case and wanted to talk.
After several meetings and a polygraph test, in which an officer cleared him of suspicion, Pearce returned to talk with police not long after a suicide attempt and told them he may have attacked Pearce with the club.
The Crown said at trial he offered police details only the real killer would know.
Bueti argued police suggested answers to questions and Pearce "parroted" the appropriate responses while in a vulnerable state.