Baltovich acquitted in murder of Elizabeth Bain
Robert Baltovich said it is an "unbelievable relief" to be cleared in the murder of his girlfriend Elizabeth Bain.
"It's been an 18-year nightmare and in a half hour it's over," he told reporters Tuesday outside the University Avenue courtroom shortly after a jury acquitted him of the charges.
"I'm glad it's over. No more bail, no more conviction, no more charges. I just get to live the rest of my life free."
The acquittal came 18 years after Bain disappeared and 16 years after Baltovich was first convicted of the crime.
Tuesday was supposed to mark the opening of a second trial into the case. Baltovich was granted a new trial after his original conviction was overturned on appeal.
Crown prosecutors were expected to open the trial by telling the jury their theory on the crime. Instead, prosecutors told the courtroom they would not proceed with their case against the 42-year-old librarian.
"Having completed a careful and detailed reassessment of this case, I sought the advice of senior colleagues in the ministry of the attorney general. It has become apparent that there is no longer any reasonable prospect of a conviction at this point and as such, I am duty bound to discontinue this prosecution," said prosecutor Phil Kotanen.
The judge followed up by instructing the jury that an acquittal was the only verdict available to them.
"There is no evidence before you capable of supporting a conviction,'' said Ontario Superior Court Justice David McCombs.
Bains say justice is coming
After the verdict, Bain's mom Julita said her family still believes Baltovich is guilty.
"We believe that he did it, that doesn't change," she told reporters outside her Scarborough home.
"He might be free here but he will have to face a final judgement up there," she said. "We're not vengeful people. All we wanted was (justice), but somehow I'm sure she'll get that some time. If not here, then up there."
When asked how he thought the Bain family would feel about his acquittal, Baltovich said he is sympathetic to them.
"It's been a 18-year-nightmare for me but it's a never ending nightmare for the Bains," he said. "I hope one day they'll accept I didn't kill their daughter. I loved her, I miss her and I know they do maybe one day we can get together and grieve together."
Baltovich said he will spend the day focusing on the positive rather than the negative.
"Maybe now there will be more peace," he said. "I think that there will always be anger, but I think now isn't the day for it."
The Bain family has said they believed Baltovich was responsible for the murder of their daughter.
Bain disappeared on June 19, 1990 after telling her mother she was heading to the University of Toronto campus in Scarborough.
Shortly after the 22-year-old went missing, her car was found mere kilometres from her home. Forensic tests identified her blood in the back seat. Her body has never been found.
Baltovich was first arrested for the murder in November 1990 and convicted of murdering Bain in March 1992.
Baltovich spent eight years in prison before his conviction was overturned and a new trial was ordered in 2004.
During the appeal, Baltovich's lawyers raised notorious serial killer Paul Bernardo as a suspect in Bain's murder, suggesting the two had been introduced.
At the time, Bernardo was attacking women in the area and was known as the Scarborough Rapist.
Police investigators travelled to Kingston Penitentiary to question Bernardo about the claim. CTV Toronto reporter Chris Eby was one of a few reporters who have watched the videotaped interview.
When Bernardo is asked the question, he answers "that's a loaded question" because he says no one will believe him if he says he didn't kill Bain.
James Lockyer, Baltovich's lawyer, told reporters outside the courtroom he will not seek compensation for his client.
"He said he is not interested in anything and he doesn't ever want to be back in a courtroom again," Lockyer said.
He also said the police who investigated the murder "have a lot to answer for" and owe Baltovich an apology.
"It took them one hour for them to decide that he was probably the person who committed the crime," he said about the detectives on the case. "That decision set in motion an inextricable motion of events that brought us here today."
Baltovich said there will always be people out there who doubt his innocence but that he has family and friends by his side who have always believed him.
"It's hard not to feel bitter," he said. "I feel like there was a target on my back since day one. But the target's gone now."
He said he has no immediate plans to celebrate but instead will go to his lawyer's office to sort things out and then enjoy the rest of the day hour by hour.
"I'm just going to be free," he said.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Chris Eby