It’s 2018. Ten years have passed since Daniel Jolivet was told no twice by the Criminal Conviction Review Group (CCRG), the last chance for convicts.
Pierre Béland, a marine biologist who made his mark as a pioneer in the study of belugas, hears Isabelle Richer’s report on the Jolivet affair, on the program Enquête.
The scientist has so far no interest in criminal cases, no legal knowledge. But he is “shocked that all the exculpatory evidence has been withheld.” He begins to take an interest in the case. And the more he learns, the more upset he is.
For almost five years that he dissects it, the man has practically done a kind of doctorate on this case, reading the slightest document, hiring a private investigator, meeting witnesses…
But he may be a star in the field of marine mammals, Béland is a minnow in the middle of justice. When he contacts Jolivet’s lawyer, Lida Sara Nouraie, she is more than skeptical. The case is already heavy enough, do we really need a sensitive whale-loving soul?
But hey, if someone wants to spend time helping their client, why not…
“What can you do for me?” asks Jolivet from the penitentiary.
– I will tell your story, we will tell your story together.
– If it’s for the money, I don’t care. »
Béland explains that he simply wants to right an injustice.
Jolivet had done his research.
” I know who you are. If you can save a whale, you might be able to save a guy who’s been stranded in prison for 25 years. »
Thus was born an unlikely friendship and a manuscript to be published this year. The book goes through every detail and attempts to demonstrate the miscarriage of justice.
Among the facts that “prove nothing”, Béland found the informer Claude Riendeau and the supposed accomplice of Jolivet, Paul-André St-Pierre. Both live near Calgary.
Me Nouraie called St-Pierre and recorded their conversation. He begins by expressing his astonishment that Jolivet has not yet confessed to the murders. Then he slips in this compromising detail: yes, the morning after the murders, the “jug” of money that came from Lemieux’s house ended up at his house. Whoever carried that empty water bottle is linked to the crime scene. In conversation, St-Pierre says Riendeau brought it. Then he changes his mind: it’s Jolivet. But neither he nor Riendeau had spoken of this object before.
A few days after this 2019 conversation, the man had changed his phone number.
In 2019, despite new elements in the file, the GRCC rejected Jolivet’s request for the third time. Nothing really conclusive in all these details, says the GRCC.
That’s not the end of the story though. In 2020, Me Nouraie sends the results of a Jolivet polygraph test to the GRCC. Conclusion of polygraph examiner Alain Lépine: Jolivet is telling the truth when he claims not to have killed these four people in Brossard in 1992.
The “lie detector” is not admissible in court, of course, but commonly used in investigations. It is often used to “test” informers – but not Riendeau.
Jolivet says he showed up at victim Denis Lemieux’s home in Brossard at midnight, and retrieved a laminated photo of him and his fiancée – made by Lemieux’s wife. He left the scene 15 minutes later and drove St-Pierre home to Pointe-Saint-Charles. He left around 12:45 a.m.
Calls from his phone (landline in his car) were picked up by the Angrignon cell tower, which accredits his version. But at trial, the police demonstrated that at the time, a call made in Brossard could be picked up by a tower on the island of Montreal.
In short, the report, produced last year, concludes that the cellular data and the system of the time do not allow to “place” Jolivet at the scene of the crime at the time of the crime. It is assumed that Lemieux was still alive at 1:37 a.m. that night, as a call was made to his home at that time from the St-Pierre telephone.
At 12:15 a.m., he went to Leblanc, gave him $20,000 from the partial sale of a kilo of coke by St-Pierre, plus the kilo not sold by Riendeau. He then goes to Lemieux, in the same building, and retrieves his photo. Then he drove St-Pierre home. He leaves St-Pierre his Mexican marriage license and the photo of his fiancée – because he still has a girlfriend in Quebec who does not know about his matrimonial project and would be furious. He drives around town, receives a call from his sister at 2:18 a.m., then calls his girlfriend at 2:28 a.m. and 2:35 a.m. goes to bed with his girlfriend in Châteauguay.
Cell records show that his calls were picked up by the Bell tower in Brossard at 12:32 a.m., then that of Angrignon in Montreal at 12:58 a.m., which seems to corroborate his version. But at trial, Crown experts argued that calls from Brossard near the river could also be picked up in Angrignon.
Once again, this new technical proof does not exonerate Jolivet. But it invalidates the cell phone evidence of the prosecution at trial, which placed Jolivet at the scene of the crime at the fatal hour (after 1:37 a.m.).
For Jolivet, it was Riendeau himself who committed the murders, with the complicity of St-Pierre, whom he went to look for at his house around 1 a.m.
The blonde from St-Pierre testified that she saw St-Pierre drinking and crying alone in his kitchen around 4 a.m. He said he did the murders with Jolivet, but his version was not even accepted by the police. And he now lives in Alberta a few kilometers from his old accomplice in the crime Riendeau.
Will these new exhibits finally convince the GRCC to at least move the case to the formal investigation stage?
Lida Sara Nouraie does not lose hope.
Because the GRCC reproached Jolivet for not having spoken at his trial – a reproach that the GRCC did not address to ex-judge Jacques Delisle, who also exercised his right to silence at his trial for murder, he who had not yet committed any crime, and who was entitled to a review and a new trial.
“I’m 65, I’ve been here 30 years…I look in the mirror, I don’t recognize myself…”
He calls his lawyer almost every day. Hoping for a move. A news.
“Lida did everything in her power to get me out of here. All. Even more ! »
Exasperated by the GRCC’s refusals, the lawyer even told a lawyer from the organization: “If you have proof of guilt, give it to me, we’ll stop wasting our time, it’s been 20 years since we’re working on this file! »
Nothing came of course.
“What drives me is that I believe in justice. Mistakes are possible, and we will have a better system if we recognize them and correct them.
“I’m so impressed that Daniel is still fighting. It would have been easy for him to admit the crimes and be released. But he’s always maintained his innocence, and he’s been wanting to take a polygraph test for 30 years. Yes, I believe he did not just suffer an unfair trial. He is innocent. »
Daniel Jolivet: co-accused of all four murders. Sentenced to life imprisonment in 1994.
Paul-André St-Pierre: co-accused of the four murders
Claude Riendeau: ex-policeman, drug and arms trafficker, main witness against Daniel Jolivet