Phillip Tallio with his supporters Marie Spetch and Robyn Batryn. (File photo)

Phillip Tallio with his supporters Marie Spetch and Robyn Batryn. (File photo)

Appeals trial begins for Bella Coola man convicted of killing toddler in 1983

Phillip Tallio was 17 at the time of the 22-month-old toddler’s death

Phillip Tallio is in court this week fighting to prove his innocence more than 30 years after he was convicted of murdering a toddler in Bella Coola.

Tallio, who was 17 at the time of the death, was first convicted of murder in 1983 in the sexual assault and killing of 22-month-old Delavina Mack.

While Tallio claimed his innocence in the killing, his lawyer at the time – named Phil Rankin – entered a guilty plea nine days into his trial 37 years ago.

Tallio has resolutely proclaimed his innocence ever since. As a result, he has been ineligible for parole and has spent the last 34 years behind bars.

His appeal case went to trial at the B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver on Tuesday (Oct. 13), with Tallio testifying, and final arguments expected to begin the week of Nov. 23.

On Thursday morning, Tallio was questioned by Crown about whether or not he had understood what was going on in 1983, with mixed answers. Rankin is scheduled to testify at Tallio’s appeal trial later on Thursday.

If he is found innocent, Tallio will be the longest-serving wrongfully convicted person in Canadian history.

READ MORE: B.C. judge grants bail to Bella Coola man convicted of killing toddler in 1983

READ MORE: Phillip Tallio released on bail under strict conditions

In 2018, Tallio won the right to appeal, making history as the longest appeal extension to ever be granted by the courts. Justice Bennett, who granted the extension of time to file an appeal, stated, “In my view the interest of justice demand that Mr. Tallio be permitted to bring his application for further DNA testing and to go forward with this appeal generally.”

Tallio was released from prison in January under strict bail conditions and was placed in housing with 24-hour surveillance.

Tallio’s appeal was eight years in the making as part of UBC’s Innocence Project. In the documents unsealed by the B.C. Court of Appeal, his legal team claims “there is fresh evidence” from a DNA test result that they argue excludes Tallio as the killer, and provides information “leading to other possible perpetrators.”

DNA testing was not available at the time of Tallio’s conviction in 1983.

READ MORE: Judge rules appeal for 1983 Tallio murder case will go ahead


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

murder trial

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 uses walking sticks while walking up a hill, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Interior Health reports 83 more COVID-19 infections overnight

46 cases are now associated with a COVID-19 community cluster in Revelstoke

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Revelstoke City Hall. (File)
Revelstoke COVID-19 cases spike to 46

Mayor Gary Sulz expects positive cases to increase

Slocan Valley communities struggling with the need for high-speed internet should consider Kaslo’s model, according to the Kaslo infoNet Society. Photo: Black Press
Follow Kaslo’s lead for fibre service, says proponent

Tim Ryan of Kaslo infoNet Society says bringing high-speed internet to rural homes is possible

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

The Walking Curriculum gets students outside and connecting with nature. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
‘Walking Curriculum’ crafted by SFU professor surges in popularity

The outdoor curriculum encourages students to connect with the natural world

Interior Health said its new toll-free line will help people connect to health-care services. (File)
Interior Health expands toll-free line to improve access to community care

By calling1-800-707-8550, people can be connected to several health-care services

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Most Read