Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


The Wrongly Convicted: David Milgaard

In January of 1969, 16-year-old David Milgaard and his friends Ron Wilson and Nichol John took a trip across Canada while under the influence of various drugs. While the friends were in Saskatoon, 20-year-old nursing student Gail Miller was found dead in a snowbank.

“The David Milgaard Story” by Carl Karp and Cecil Rosner

At the time Milgaard and his friends were picking up their friend Albert Cadrain (from his parents home), Cadrain’s family had been renting out their basement to Larry Fisher. Tipped off by Cadrain (who later admitted he was mostly interested in the $2000 reward for information), RCMP officers arrested Milgaard in May of 1969. He was then sent back to Saskatchewan, where he was charged with the murder of Gail Miller. Cadrain testified he had seen Milgaard return the night of Miller’s murder in blood-stained clothing. Wilson and John were also called to testify against Milgaard; they had told police they had been with him the entire day and that they believed him to be innocent but changed their stories for the court. Wilson had later recanted his testimony, saying he had been told he was under suspicion and wanted to alleviate the pressure on himself. David Milgaard was convicted of 1st degree murder and sentenced to life in prison on January 31, 1970 – exactly a year after Miller’s murder. He was 17 years old at the time of his sentencing.

I speak of the plight of David Milgaard,” said Liberal MP Lloyd Axworthy “who has spent the last 21 years of his life in prison for a crime he did not commit. Yet for the last two years, the Department of Justice has been sitting on an application to reopen his case. But rather than review these conclusive reports, rather than appreciate the agony and trauma of the Milgaard family, the Minister of Justice refuses to act.” After twenty-three years in a maximum security prison, Milgaard was exonerated at the age of 40. Using Axworthy’s argument, we can determine that:

Premise 1: The murder of a Canadian citizen is a crime.

Premise 2: David Milgaard is in prison for the murder of Gail Miller.

Premise 3: David Milgaard was wrongly convicted.

Conclusion: Therefore, David Milgaard should not have been convicted.

By analyzing the above argument, we can easily discover if Lloyd Axworthy’s argument is a sound one.

Premise 1: Murdering a Canadian citizen is in fact a crime, therefore this is true.

Premise 2: David Milgaard did spend over 23 years in a Canadian prison after being wrongfully charged with both raping and murdering a young woman. Thus, this premise is also true.

Premise 3: At the time Axworthy spoke out about this case many believe Milgaard was solely responsible for what tragedy had happened, however in 2015 we know that he had been wrongly convicted and is truly innocent.

So when looking at Axworthy’s statement after David Milgaard had been released, the syllogism is true, valid and sound.



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