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Sudbury woman filing civil suit against cops who charged her for murder


The murder charge has been dropped against a Sudbury woman accused in her estranged husband's death and now that his brother has been sentenced for the crime, she is coming after the cops.

Melissa Sheridan says she went from a respected Sudbury businesswoman to social pariah after she was charged in 2020 with murdering her ex-husband, Brant Burke. (CTV Northern Ontario file)

"And today, we saw the actual murderer get sentenced, but it's only the first part because now the people who are responsible for her ever being charged with a criminal offence, the OPP officers who had tunnel vision from the very beginning, who were looking for some kind of sensational story about the white woman who was directing the actual murderer to commit the crime," Michael Lacy, Sheridan's lawyer, told CTV News in an interview at the courthouse Wednesday.

"Those officers are now going to be the ones who have to be held accountable."

Lacy said police have been given notice about the intent to sue the officers and services involved in Sheridan's wrongful arrest and a statement of claim will be filed shortly.

"Among other things we intend to hold the officers accountable for their deliberate and negligent conduct as well as violating cote constitutional principles," he said.

"It would have been obvious to anyone that the murderer's false account implicating Melissa Sheridan was ridiculous. Rather than acting accordingly, the officers were so fixated in trying to make a case against Melissa where there was no basis to do so, they arrested her within hours of the murderer’s statement. They took her from her family and threw her in jail."

CTV News obtained copies of the two notices dated Sept. 1. One lists the Ontario Provincial Police, Wikwemikong Tribal Police, four OPP investigators by name along with a Det. Sgt. from the UCCM Anishnaabe Police. The second is addressed to the Crown.

"We have been retained to commence a civil action against you to recover damages arising from your negligent investigation, breach of my clients' rights and freedoms under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, unlawful detention, and other negligent and/or intentional conduct that occasioned injury and damages," the notice from her lawyers said.

After spending two years trying to find evidence "that would actually implicate her," police "came up predictably empty, because there was nothing to find," Lacy said.

The lawyer alleges police "had absolutely no regard for fundamental principles and protections that everyone is entitled to" and said, "they acted in a way that caused irreparable harm to Melissa and her family and they should be held accountable for their actions in a civil court."  

Few details of the case were known prior to Kerry Burke's sentencing hearing Wednesday afternoon where he received the required penalty for second-degree murder, life in prison. He will be eligible for parole after 15 years of serving time at the maximum-security prison in Penetanguishene.

When Kerry Burke and Melissa Sheridan were both charged in November 2020 with first-degree murder, a day apart, it rocked the community.

He confessed to killing his younger brother, 56-year-old Brant, who was found shot to death Oct. 25, 2020, on a trail in Point Grondine Reserve on Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, near Killarney, Ont.

Kerry Burke, a resident of Killarney, admitted to killing his brother, Brant Burke, two years ago. (File)

Kerry Burke also implicated Sheridan in the crime, telling police in a note she offered him $10,000 to kill his brother because she was allegedly concerned about losing her business in the divorce.

Sheridan, 39 at the time, was granted bail less than a month after being arrested while he remained in jail.

The Crown withdrew the murder charge against her in July as their key witness, Kerry Burke, was determined not to be credible or reliable.

"We started our cross-examination and it became abundantly clear that he was not a truthful witness. He was a liar, something we have been saying for the past 18 months," Lacy told CTV News this summer.

Defence lawyer Michael Lacy outside of the Sudbury courthouse. July 27/22 (Alana Everson/CTV Northern Ontario)

"Some people might think you should be elated when your first-degree murder charge gets withdrawn, but when your position is 'I never should have been charged in the first place and I have been put through 18 months of misery, 18 months of speculation, 18 months of the public believing that I am guilty of something, it's not exactly a happy day."

CTV News requested an interview with the Crown Attorney's office in July, but our request was declined.

The Ministry of the Attorney General did provide a statement that read in part:

"If the Crown determines at any time that there is no longer a reasonable prospect of conviction, or that it is not in the public interest to proceed, the Crown is duty bound to withdraw the charges."

With files from Amanda Hicks and Alana Everson, CTV News video journalists in Sudbury. Top Stories

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