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Man convicted in Barrie home invasion loses fingerprint challenge

'The trial judge was satisfied that although the matching process was not in accordance with the normal method, it did not undermine the analysis,' appeal court concludes
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A man convicted in a 2016 Barrie home invasion has been unsuccessful in his challenge of the police fingerprint identification process.

The Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed Kristopher Ogden’s appeal earlier this week.

On Feb. 13, 2016, Ogden and two other men burst into the Barrie home of an elderly man. Brandishing a knife, the masked Ogden, along with the two others, took off in the man’s car.

A second man had pleaded guilty to related charges and a third accomplice was never found.

Ogden was convicted of robbery, break and enter, disguise with intent, theft of a motor vehicle, possession of property obtained by crime under $5,000, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, and breach of probation in 2017 and sentenced the following January.

In his appeal, Ogden argued the fingerprint identification process was not sufficiently independent and impartial, and therefore couldn’t be relied upon as expert evidence. He also argued the trial judge erred in dismissing his application for a stay.

The fingerprint was lifted from a telephone one of the home-invaders had ripped off the wall. Police matched it to a print on file that belonged to Ogden.

“It was conceded at trial that if the identity of the appellant were proven, he was guilty of most of the charges at issue,” explained the three-member panel in the appeal court’s written decision.

Ogden argued the trial judge erred in putting weight on the opinion of one of the three officers involved, because his qualifications had lapsed and that it didn’t address the effect of confirmation bias.

The appeal court disagreed, pointing out that the court did not rely on his early identification, but that it was used as context showing how the identification process had proceeded.

“The trial judge was satisfied that although the matching process was not in accordance with the normal method, it did not undermine the analysis,” the panel wrote in the Court of Appeal decision.

The evidence was boosted by the testimony of another officer, the panel said. 

Following his conviction, Ogden had charged that correctional officers breached his right to security of the person and he was subjected to cruel and unusual treatment while in segregation during his two years in jail awaiting trial. He argued that continuing the prosecution would undermine the integrity of the judicial process.

But in a lengthy decision examining the details of the incident including perspectives from the jail staff involved, the trial judge dismissed the application, concluding that his allegation was “dramatically outweighed” by society’s interest in having the case proceed to sentencing.

"His decision that the conduct in question did not meet the high bar for imposing a stay is entitled to deference," wrote the appeal panel.