Lawyer divulging details of how Sherman bodies were found could impact case: Saunders
Published Tuesday, October 30, 2018 7:48PM EDT Last Updated Tuesday, October 30, 2018 8:16PM EDT
In an exclusive interview with CTV News Toronto, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders expressed concerns with statements made by the lawyer representing the family of murdered billionaire couple Barry and Honey Sherman last week, which revealed specific details about the homicide investigation.
At an Oct. 26 news conference, lawyer Brian Greenspan said the bodies, discovered in the couple’s North York home on Old Colony Road on Dec. 15, 2017, were found in a “suspicious and staged manner.”
He said the two were “sitting next to each other, with ligatures pulled up around their necks and wrapped around a railing, forcing them into an upright position.” Greenspan added that “Barry Sherman’s legs were outstretched with one crossed over the other in a passive manner, wearing his undisturbed eyeglasses and his jacket pulled slightly behind his back, which would have prevented use of his arms.”
The apparent details of how the bodies were found were not made available to the public previously, a fact that Saunders said could have an impact on the investigation.
“The more information you give out to the public, it taints your investigation,” Saunders said. “So now certain things are said and out there in public domain and the next witness comes in and starts talking about those things … it makes it harder from a credibility perspective to make it authentic.”
In that same news conference, Greenspan was highly critical of the Toronto Police Service’s investigation into the deaths of Barry and Honey Sherman, and described the crime scene investigation as falling “below the standard.”
He took issues with several parts of the investigation, including initial comments from the police that there were no signs of forced entry into the home and no suspects being sought. Greenspan called the assessment a “misguided and unfounded conclusion that left the wrong impression that this was a self-inflicted crime.”
Saunders defended the comment, saying the officer who said it was referring to string of incidents that had previously occurred in the neighbourhood. There were a number of break-ins in the area, Saunders said, and residents “feared for their lives.”
“The ability of selecting segments of a comment I think is a process that also leads to being misled,” Saunders said. “I will say it could have been worded differently, but there was no official stance by the Toronto police when it came to we are not looking for anybody.”
Greenspan also alleged that the police missed “at least 25 palm or finger print impressions” inside the home, which were found by private investigators. Saunders said the service’s homicide unit, forensic pathologists and officers spent six weeks searching the crime scene.
Saunders said that it is the responsibility of the Toronto Police Service to present cases before the judicial system and that the “integrity of evidence” is incredibly important.
“In order to prove a case when it comes to evidence, it has to withstand the test,” he said. “Can you examine a house from top to bottom, inside out, upside down? That’s an impossibility. We all know that is an impossibility. But can you do it to the best of your ability to make sure it withstands the test of a courtroom? Absolutely. Did we do that? I believe we did.”
Almost immediately after Greenspan’s news conference last week, Saunders spoke with reporters. He said his intention in holding his own news conference was to “make sure the public was not misled.”
“This investigation was done thoroughly, from start to the finish, as with every other homicide investigation,” Saunders said. “If I didn’t comment on it, I certainly didn’t want the impression that what was said was accurate.”
It has been more than 10 months since the deaths, but Saunders is not particularly worried about the timeframe.
“Never give a case a timeline. They always say that your case is as good as the next call,” he said.
The Sherman family is offering a reward of up to $10 million for information that could lead to the apprehension of the people responsible for the murder.
While the private tip line set up by the Sherman family does not direct callers to the Toronto police, Saunders said that both he and Greenspan have the same goal.
“He wants to find the person or persons responsible for the death of Honey and Barry Sherman. I think that is the first and foremost thing.”