A Narrow Escape From The Death Penalty

Doctor Charles Smith, Ontario’s top pediatric forensic pathologist for 20 years, testified in dozens of criminal cases, helping to secure a number of convictions. Unfortunately, not all of those convicted were guilty. One man, William Mullins-Johnson, was later exonerated when it was found that Smith erred in some of his findings. Mullins-Johnson had been convicted in 1992 for the sex slaying of his niece when Smith supposedly found evidence of asphyxia caused by a neck and chest compression, and anal dilation.

Smith found the exact same evidence in Ohio in the 2000 child-murder case of Christopher Fuller, accused with the murder and attempted rape of his three-year-old daughter. The difference was that while Mullins-Johnson was sentenced to life in jail, the jury recommended the death sentence for Fuller. Fortunately the trial judge denied the request and sentenced Fuller to life imprisonment.

Mullins-Johnson spent 12 years in prison before it was determined that his niece was not sexually assaulted and that she probably died of natural causes. It remains to be seen whether Fuller’s conviction may be similarly discredited.