EDMONTON — Mark Twitchell’s murder trial essentially narrowed to a single issue that will be explored further in my upcoming book on the case: where does reality end and fantasy begin?
It is a question that defines our internet generation and our obsession with reality television, but I’m hard pressed to find the topic ever before becoming a talking point for a major murder trial.
A jury found the aspiring filmmaker guilty of first-degree murder on Tuesday after hearing weeks of evidence that made some observers furious and others sick to their stomachs. The public gallery cried on several occasions. It took under five hours for the jury to reach a decision.
By now you have likely read a bit about the victim, Johnny Altinger, and the man convicted of his murder, Mark Twitchell. With the trial over, I am getting closer to sharing this whole story with you.
The book, The Devil’s Cinema (pre-orders available), will provide new detail and insight into this case, but I’m not able to say much more at this time.
I’ve agreed to a few interviews in the last few days. Much will be left unsaid until the book is published.
As I told Sun Media in an interview this week:
“There’s a lot in the book that the jury didn’t hear and the public hasn’t heard yet.”
“This was a case that put art on trial and the jury was trying to decide where this line goes that separated fact from fiction. From a writer’s perspective, it’s fascinating that you have a criminal trial that’s less about physical evidence and forensics, and more about a movie script and novels and writings.”
The Twitchell book is slated to be released likely in the spring of next year, but no date has been confirmed.
One complicating factor is that Twitchell is still facing an attempted murder trial for what the Crown alleges is his first attempted murder victim. That trial has not yet been scheduled.
It’s possible that the Crown will not proceed with that case because Twitchell is already serving life in prison and sentences in Canada can’t be made any longer.
However, a second conviction could make a difference in parole eligibility. A life sentence prevents an inmate from applying for parole for 25 years. As far as I know, no decision has been made either way on this second charge at this time.