WINNIPEG – Almost 32 years to the day that 13-year-old Candace Derksen’s body was found, frozen and hog-tied in an industrial shed, her parents are preparing to go through the emotions of another trial.
Mark Edward Grant’s 2011 second-degree murder conviction was overturned in 2013. The new trial starts Monday and is scheduled to last 34 days.
“It’s very surreal, having to go (through) a rerun of a trial,” Candace’s mother, Wilma Derksen, said in an interview.
“It seems easier (this time) because we don’t have the intense fears of seeing him for the first time and hearing the stories for the first time. We don’t feel that we’ll be triggered as much. But on the other hand, we have no clue what this will do to us.”
Candace disappeared on her way home from school in Winnipeg in November 1984. Her body was found six weeks later — Jan. 17, 1985 — in a storage shed near her house. She had been tied up and left to freeze to death.
Years went by and no one was charged.
In 2001, RCMP tested the twine used to bind Derksen, as well as hair found at the scene, but results were inconclusive. A private lab, Molecular World in Thunder Bay, Ont., tested the twine and hair again in 2007. After that test, Grant — a man with a long criminal record — was charged.
He was found guilty in 2011, but the Manitoba Court of Appeal overturned the conviction two years later. It said the trial judge erred in not allowing the defence to present evidence that pointed to another possible killer — an unidentified man who tied up a 12-year-old girl in 1985 while Grant was in custody.
The Crown appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which upheld the Appeal Court ruling. The Crown announced in 2015 it would seek a new trial against Grant.
Grant, now in his 50s, has repeatedly denied killing Derksen. His lawyer has said the DNA evidence was another flaw in the original trial.
Wilma Derksen said she understands the need for the justice system to ensure appeals are allowed and rules are followed. But after sitting through the first trial, she said she feels confident Grant is the one who killed her daughter.
“All the little things that came out … the DNA and everything was very conclusive for us. We can’t deny that we just feel that we have the answer.”