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These are the death probes police watchdog wants reopened

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It was, according to the OIPRD, a “textbook case to treat as a suspicious death unless and until a thorough investigation showed otherwise.”

Instead, “police quickly latched onto the finding of hypothermia, disregarding the evidence that compelled further investigation,” the report said — including the possibility, given her state of undress, fresh head injuries and bruises and abrasions, she had been sexually assaulted.

A central issue, the report found, was the failure to thoroughly investigate an unnamed man who was with Gliddy on the night she died. The man was interviewed, but it was not clear to OIPRD investigators in what capacity, namely whether he was a suspect. “Very few questions” were asked of him in a recorded interview, the report notes.

The OIPRD identified other concerns about Gliddy’s death probe, including “haphazard” collection of exhibits and photographs from the scene and a failure to interview key witnesses.

“Investigators should have focused on how (Gliddy) came to be unconscious, whether anyone else’s actions contributed to her death — and more specifically, whether she was sexually assaulted,” the report states.

A senior officer who investigated Gliddy’s death, and who was interviewed by the OIPRD, said in hindsight, police could have done more … The case closed earlier than it should have in the circumstances.”

“C.D.,” February 2014

“C.D.” was an 18-year-old Indigenous woman who was in a common-law relationship with a male who was nearly 50. A man called 911 and reported his girlfriend had tried to hang herself but was still alive. She was later pronounced dead and an autopsy determined the cause of death was “ligature hanging,” according to the report.

During the initial police investigation, it was determined the 911 caller gave a false identity, and the boyfriend, who was unco-operative, later disappeared.

The police investigation “was deficient in several critical areas, leaving important questions unanswered which could affect the ultimate conclusions in the case,” according to the report. That included that no formal statements were taken and none of the woman’s acquaintances were interviewed.

Major problems were identified with the forensic work. The report also questioned how the coroner’s investigative statement could conclude the woman’s boyfriend found her and “cut her down” when photographic evidence suggested the belt had not been cut.

The OIPRD report also notes the “coroner briefly attended the scene” and it appeared “he declared the death to be non-suspicious before he had even examined the body at the hospital and before the autopsy had been performed.”

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Marie Lynette Spence, April 2016

Police were called in to investigate after a woman’s body was found in a wooded area. The woman’s pants were partially pulled down. According to police, the supervising coroner did not think the death was suspicious.

Days later, an autopsy ruled the cause of death as hypothermia “in a woman with ketoacidosis and acute ethanol intoxication.” The autopsy report notes 34 recent injuries to her head, neck, torso and more.

The OIPRD investigation found multiple problems with the police probe, including that the discovery of her body in a state of partial undress should have compelled “police to treat this as a suspicious death unless and until foul play could reasonably be excluded.”

Errors were also made in part due to confusion about who was the primary investigator — police or the coroner. The death “was only one of a number of cases in which the coroner made decisions better made by, or in consultation with, criminal investigators.” As a result, there were issues maintaining the scene, and Spence’s body was moved though it is not known by whom, or why.

“G.H.,” March 2015

A passerby called police after finding the body of a 20-year-old man, G.H., in the snow, the report said. Firefighters confirmed the death, and according to police advised them the deceased “had possibly been in a fight.”

The cause of death was listed as “hypothermia,” with other conditions noted, including “elevated blood ethanol concentration.”

The OIPRD raised the alarm about a number of factors, including that no criminal investigators attended the scene while the body was there. Instead, the coroner ordered the removal of the body “before investigators had even arrived at the scene.”

There was also insufficient questioning of a witness, who “was never asked the most rudimentary questions about his knowledge,” the report said. The report raised concerns about some officers’ basic police knowledge, saying it was evident at least two investigators on this file failed to have a complete understanding of how the deceased’s injuries had to be considered.

“I.J,” March 2017

The body of a 57-year-old Indigenous woman was discovered by a passerby on the icy pavement. She had “a clump of hair gripped in her hand” and “fresh abrasions and cuts.” She had been released from hospital less than two days before, after police brought her there under the provisions of the Mental Health Act.

A forensic pathologist determined her cause of death was “hypothermia and ethanol intoxication in a woman with a left ankle fracture.”

Problems were identified with the initial actions taken by police, including that the crime seen depicted in photographs “was not accurately or completely captured by attending officers describing the scene, including the investigators.”

That the woman’s belongings were scattered and her money holder was open should have “required that this matter be dealt with as a suspicious death and that foul play not be discounted without a thorough investigation.”

Jethro Anderson, October 2000

Anderson, 15, was reported missing to police by his aunt on Oct. 29, 2000, but according to the records obtained by the OIPRD, there was no police activity before Nov. 3, 2000.

According to the report, police were told volunteers would be conducting a ground search along the Kaministiquia River because he was known to hang out there, and there was concern he may have fallen into the river. Anderson’s body was found Nov. 12 in the river. A coroner was contacted and observed bruising to his left cheek and an abrasion. Later, the coroner reported the cause of death was “asphyxia due to drowning.”

The OIPRD described the police probe as “wholly inadequate.” That included that, despite being told by multiple sources Anderson had been assaulted before his death, “no sustained or serious criminal investigation followed.”

A review of the file “compels the conclusion that (Anderson’s) death did not get the attention it deserved. It also invites consideration as to whether this is explained by his personal circumstances, Indigenous status or both. At the very least, the poor quality of the investigation had the effect of undervaluing his life.”

Curran Strang, September 2005

Strang, 18, was reported missing Sept. 22, 2005, but according to the report, there is no indication police acted before Sept. 24. Strang’s body was located Sept. 26 in the river, about four metres from shore. He was face down and had no shirt or socks on.

The coroner attended the scene and ordered an autopsy. The OIPRD report states Strang’s lungs were full of water and the cause of his death was “consistent with drowning and acute alcohol intoxication.”

The OIPRD found problems with the investigation, including that injuries found on Strang’s body were not investigated by the pathologist. The report states police were “not in a position, based on the very limited investigation conducted, to rule out foul play in this death.”

“In some of these cases, the passage of time may make re-investigation difficult. The point of recommending re-investigation is to reflect that in these cases, the original investigations were so incomplete or inadequate to prevent the ruling out of foul play or third party contributions to the deaths,” according to the report.

Kyle Morrisseau, November 2009

Morrisseau, 17, was reported missing Oct. 28, 2009, after a school counsellor reported he hadn’t been at school for two days. His body was found in the river on Nov. 10, was removed from the water and the coroner was called. An autopsy report stated the cause of death was “asphyxiation due to drowning associated with alcohol intoxication.” There were abrasions on his shins.

The OIPRD’s investigation found there were “many leads developed during the missing persons investigation which were not followed up on,” and many investigative steps that would be expected in a suspicious death probe were not taken, according to the report. “As such, TBPS is not in a position to rule out foul play in this death,” it states.

Jordan Wabasse, February 2011

Wabasse, 15, was reported missing on Feb. 8, 2011. His body was not found until May 10, 2011, when boaters spotted it floating in the river. The coroner attended the scene and an autopsy concluded the cause of death was “cold water drowning,” with contributing factors being “alcohol use, cold ambient temperature,” according to the report. A pathologist stated “in the absence of any other evidence, there is no reason to suspect foul play.”

The OIPRD identified problems with the investigation, including that despite receiving information that Wabasse may have been mistakenly targeted for drug debts, it was concluded there was “no reason to suspect foul play.”

“There were several leads to follow up on and individuals to interview who may have had direct knowledge of this matter. This was not pursued,” reads the report.

“There is compelling evidence that (Wabasse) may have been a victim of a crime,” the report says.

Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and policing. Reach her by email at wgillis@thestar.ca or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis

Jennifer Yang is a Toronto-based reporter covering identity and inequality. Follow her on Twitter: @jyangstar

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Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme

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Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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Anglais

‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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