Tag Archives: Altinger

Notes on the Devil’s tour

MELBOURNE — The initial tour for The Devil’s Cinema has reached its end with my return to Australia, leaving my book on the Mark Twitchell “Dexter Killer” case in the hands of the first wave of North American readers.

These past few weeks have been a fascinating and jolting experience.

A manuscript grows out of relative secrecy and then seemingly overnight these same words are suddenly appearing in hardcover, stacked on bookstore shelves, boxed up for shipping to people’s homes, and transmitted straight into portable e-readers: Kindle, Nook, and so on.

Authors are then subjected to great extremes while on tour: 4am wake-up calls, back-to-back interviews, then long pauses of nothingness that can quickly plunge into another round of public events and encounters with little to no warning.

But it’s been an absolute pleasure meeting many readers and stumbling into old friends as I walked these well-worn trails of book authors and their publicists.

Sincere thanks must go to a few keen and early readers who have spotted a couple of typos in the first edition, which have now been noted and corrected for all subsequent printings.

Many readers have also been messaging me with further questions.

I’ve answered some of them in a Q and A for Book Lounge, and another for Open Book Toronto. But please feel free to contact me with a question and I’ll try to post responses to the most common questions in future postings.

Until then, here some of the highlights from the tour:

Edmonton, Alberta

I arrived to a fresh snowfall blanketing the city, and this proved to be the best welcome home present I could ask for.

Canadians often complain about the bitter winters, but there is something quite refreshing about seeing snow once again for those of us returning after an extended absence (of course, this novelty quickly vanishes and the reality sets in, especially since it was early spring and the snow should have been long gone).

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Mark Twitchell’s next steps …

EDMONTON — Mark Twitchell has been transferred from the Edmonton Remand Centre to a maximum security prison where he’ll serve out his life sentence.

He’ll be at least 56 years old before he can even apply for parole. The 2.5 years he spent awaiting trial in custody do not count in a first-degree murder conviction.

Life in a federal prison is different than in custody at remand. He’ll likely have access to a computer (with no Internet connection), a television and have his own room. Compare this to the double or triple bunks in remand. Some say it is better, but it is still hard time.

But what about an appeal? I received a few questions on this topic, so here is the answer:

In Canada, it’s not like in other countries like the USA where someone can  jump from court to court and spend years or decades appealing their conviction and sentence.

Twitchell has 30 days from his conviction date to launch an appeal. After that, it’s over. He can’t appeal anywhere.

To have an appeal heard by Alberta’s Court of Appeal, he has to raise grounds, such as a legal error occurring during his trial that could have impacted the trial outcome. If that happens, then an appeal could be heard and a panel of three judges could then decide if a retrial is necessary.

I’m no lawyer, so I can’t offer an opinion on the likelihood of an appeal. But on one hand, an attempt at appealing seems to always happen in major criminal trials, not matter how flimsy the grounds could be. On the other hand, the courts already spent a great deal of time making sure he received a fair trial with countless pre-trial hearings sorting out what evidence the jury could hear and earlier issuing huge publication bans and sealing orders so Twitchell’s case stayed out of the papers, ensuring the jury pool wasn’t overly-influenced by media coverage. It could go either way.

His deadline to file papers for an appeal is May 12, 2011. I’ll let you know if anything happens on that front.

Secondly, Twitchell is still facing a charge of attempted murder in the October 3, 2008 luring of Gilles Tetreault.

As far as I know, the Crown prosecutor’s office has not made a decision yet on proceeding with that matter. If a trial goes ahead, it would likely be held late this year or early 2012.

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Twitchell murder trial begins

EDMONTON — Jury selection has been completed in Mark Twitchell’s lengthy court proceedings, leading the way for a criminal trial to begin later this week.

Twitchell is charged with the first-degree murder of Johnny Altinger, a 38-year-old who vanished in October 2008.

After seven hours of deliberations today, a jury of 12 people and two alternates was selected from a pool of 192 people.

The trial will begin at 1.30pm on Wednesday, March 16th and is expected to run no later than the end of April. Over 70 people are expected to be called as witnesses.

I won’t be blogging or tweeting any of this case over the next four to six weeks as I’ll be focused solely on research for the forthcoming book (to be published by McClelland and Stewart).

Anyone with information about this case can contact me at 780-802-3835 or via e-mail at steve [at] stevelillebuen [dot] com.

There’s always the post office too:

PO Box 403   Stn. Main
Edmonton, AB   T5J 2J6

Anonymity is guaranteed.

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