SLAM! Sports SLAM! Wrestling
   August 27, 2014



News & Rumours
Bios
Obits
Canadian Hall of Fame
WrestleMania 30
WrestleMania 30 photos
Video
Movie Database
Minority Mat Report
Columnists
Features
Results Archive
PPV Reviews
SLAM! Wrestling store
On Facebook
On Twitter
Send Feedback




Photo Galleries

SummerSlam


Kevin Steen


Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fan Fest


Raw in Miami


Tragos/Thesz Hall of Fame inductions


WWE Battleground


ROH in Detroit







SCOREBOARD
PHOTO GALLERY
VIDEO GALLERY
COMMENT





Trio launches appeals in wrestler’s murder
By JAMES TURNER- Winnipeg Sun


A trio of Manitobans recently convicted in the murder-for-hire slaying of a former pro wrestler have launched separate appeals, claiming mistakes made during their joint trial should grant them each a new day in court.

Or, in one case, a conviction for manslaughter instead of the more-serious murder finding.

Melody Sanford, Rita Cushnie and Donald Richard have each filed notices to Manitoba’s highest court they intend to appeal guilty murder and conspiracy verdicts a jury handed to them last fall for the death of Ivan (John) Radocaj.

Radocaj, a retired pro wrestler once known as the Croatian Giant, was found beaten to death in his Interlake-area home on Sept. 14, 2007.

In November, the three were ordered to serve life sentences without parole eligibility for 25 years for his murder. Each was later handed a 13-year-long concurrent sentence for conspiracy.

At trial, jurors heard evidence Sanford commissioned Radocaj’s killing while Richard, his cousin Daniel Richard and another man carried it out.

Cushnie was involved in the murder conspiracy and helped encourage her son to participate in the killing, prosecutors said.

Sanford, Radocaj’s estranged wife, claims Justice Colleen Suche made a handful of errors during the trial, including allowing her videotaped statement to RCMP to be played for jurors.

Sanford, 47, told police it wasn’t her idea to kill her husband but she was happy to let it happen. “Everybody was making offers and I just accepted,” Sanford said in a police interview recorded hours after her Jan. 24, 2008 arrest.

Richard, Cushnie’s 35-year-old son, claims the verdict the jury arrived at was “contrary to law” and the weight of the evidence, among other things. He concedes he played a role in the killing, but is asking the appeals court to substitute a manslaughter conviction and quash the one for murder.

Sanford and Richard also each say Suche should have allowed the jury to be polled after the verdicts were handed down.

At least two jurors left the courtroom sobbing deeply after pronouncing the trio guilty.

Cushnie claims Suche made a mistake in her charge to the jury by allowing them to equate evidence relating to Sanford against her.

The 57-year-old also believes Suche’s ruling to not edit out names in Richard’s police confession was a mistake.

No date to hear the appeals has been set.

RELATED LINKS

  • Archive of Ivan (John) Radocaj stories