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Decades-long journey at an end for parents of Winnipeg teen killed in 1984

Wilma and Cliff Derksen leave the Winnipeg courthouse Wednesday, Oct.18, 2017. The Crown has decided not to appeal the acquittal of Mark Edward Grant, who was found not guilty last month of second-degree murder in the death of Candace Derksen. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Steve Lambert
November 08, 2017 - 1:00 PM

WINNIPEG - Years of legal proceedings in the death of a Winnipeg teenager in 1984 have now come to an end.

The Crown has decided not to appeal the acquittal of Mark Edward Grant, who was found not guilty last month of second-degree murder in the death of Candace Derksen.

Candace was last seen while walking home from school at the age of 13, and her frozen body — with her feet and hands tied — was found six weeks later in an industrial shed.

Grant was arrested in 2007 following DNA tests and found guilty in 2011, but the conviction was overturned two years later by the Supreme Court of Canada.

A new trial was held this year and Court of Queen's Bench Justice Karen Simonsen ruled the DNA evidence was flawed.

A written statement from Manitoba Justice says the Crown will not appeal that verdict, but offers no details.

"This determination was reached after a careful review of the evidence and Justice Simonsen’s decision by both the Crowns assigned to the prosecution and Manitoba Prosecution Service’s appeal unit," the statement said.

Candace's disappearance gripped the city and a large public search was launched.

Grant, now 54, was unknown to the Derksen family. He had a criminal record at the time that included sexual assaults, and was convicted of other crimes before his 2007 arrest. In one case in 1994, he was convicted of a sexual assault that occurred shortly after he had been released from custody on a previous conviction.

In the murder retrial earlier this year, court heard that DNA samples had deteriorated in the time between Derksen's death and Grant's first trial.

Grant's lawyer, Saul Simmonds, said in his closing arguments that DNA samples the Crown had relied on were so tiny as to be infinitesimal, and could be from one of the many people who had visited the shed where Derksen's body was found.

Cliff and Wilma Derksen said last month they continue to believe Grant killed their daughter but after three decades, they did not want the Crown to appeal.

The Derksens have worked on several projects in their daughter's name, including Candace House, a home-like resource centre for victims of crime that is being built a short walk from the Winnipeg court house.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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