Inside The Wrongful Murder Conviction Of Steven Truscott

Steven Truscott spent decades in prison for the murder of Lynne Harper. Truscott claimed he was innocent — but it took decades to prove he hadn't raped and killed his school friend. On June 9, 1959, 14-year-old Steven Truscott gave 12-year-old Lynne Harper a ride from their school on his bike. He said he dropped her off at an intersection outside of town, according to The Canadian Encyclopedia. When she didn't return home by 11:20 p.m. that night, Harper's father reported her as missing.

Two days later, on June 11, 1959, Harper's body was found near Lawson's Bush in Clinton, Ontario, close to the County Road where she had biked with Truscott (via The Canadian Encyclopedia). Several people testified that they had seen Truscott and Harper together, and it was assumed that Truscott was the last person to see Harper alive.

As the main suspect, Truscott was questioned taken into custody just two days later on June 13. Truscott insisted that he was innocent, but because of the serious nature of the crime, the teenager was tried as an adult for rape and murder. He was found guilty on September 30, 1959, per the Ontario Justice Education Network (OJEN).

Sentenced to death

Not only was the 14-year-old found guilty — he was also sentenced to death by hanging. But Steven Truscott always maintained his innocence and tried to appeal his conviction in 1960. Two appeals courts rejected his request, according to Innocence Canada, but the Governor-General changed Truscott's death sentence to a life sentence.

While Truscott was in prison, a Toronto journalist, Isabel LeBourdais, published a book called "The Trial of Steven Truscott," detailing the case. Her book brought the case back into the public consciousness, and the governor-general asked Canada's Supreme Court whether an appeal would have led to the sentence being overturned — but the court maintained that no appeal was warranted. Yet after 10 years in prison, he was eligible for parole, and was granted supervised release in October 1969. He began living under a new name, married in 1970, and had three children.

But Truscott wasn't in the clear yet. It wasn't until decades later that Truscott's conviction was overturned. With a new analysis of the contents of Lynne Harper's stomach and insect activity on the corpse, the timeline for her murder "demonstrated that the original estimate of time of death was unreliable," according to Pub Med. On August 28, 2007, Steven Truscott's conviction was finally overturned and declared a miscarriage of justice.