The Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled Steven Truscott should be acquitted based on the way his trial was conducted. It also -- and this is something that will likely not receive headline play in the media -- found that he might well have been guilty. In the court's view, that guilt was not proven. In our society, that's the rule we go by.
The court would have ordered a new trial, but accepted the reality that a complete and fair trial is impossible after the passage of fifty years.
Common sense analysis of the events of the night of the murder and the local geography point to Truscott's guilt. However, I'm a firm believer in the rule of law, and if you're going to convict a 14-year-old and sentence him to hang, you better have him dead to rights.
So, in the end, it might have all worked out. If he did it, he served ten years in jail, which, under today's young offender law, would be more than enough. If he didn't do it, he's got his vindication.
This much we know for sure: For forty years, since he was 24 year old, Steven Truscott ha been a productive and law-abiding citizen. If he made some grievous mistake as a teenager, he's paid for it and proved his rehabilitation. If he didn't, he can at least take comfort from the fact that his case helped end capital punishment in Canada and focussed the country's attention on the issue of crimes commited by juveniles.