Sophonow defence lawyer tells inquiry his leads weren't pursued

Brodsky gave list of suspects to police

Fri, May 25, 2001

By Leah Janzen

THE man police now believe killed Barbara Stoppel once tried to avoid criminal charges by offering to

testify that Thomas Sophonow had confessed to murdering the girl.

Sophonow's defence lawyer Greg Brodsky, taking the stand for a second day at Sophonow's wrongful

conviction inquiry yesterday, said Terry Arnold came forward as a jailhouse informant during Sophonow's

third trial.

After an arrest for uttering threats, Arnold contacted a lawyer in Brodsky's firm looking for representation

at his bail hearing.

According to Brodsky, Arnold -- convicted of first-degree murder in 1999 but recently granted a new trial

in the beating death of a B.C. teenager -- immediately began looking for a way out of trouble.

Brodsky said Arnold told the lawyer that months earlier, when he was charged with arson, he'd been

housed with Sophonow at the Winnipeg Remand Centre.

After badgering Sophonow about Stoppel's 1981 killing, Arnold said Sophonow confessed.

"(Arnold) said that in frustration Sophonow said, 'Of course I did it and if you don't get off my back you'll

get it too,'" Brodsky said.

Brodsky said Arnold came forward with the bogus confession in the hopes he could use it to negotiate his

way out of his charges.

Brodsky said he notified Winnipeg police of Arnold's claim and also asked them to check him out as a

possible suspect.

Arnold was considered a suspect briefly in the early days of the investigation.

Recently, Winnipeg police revealed they had contact with Arnold a number of times during the

investigation into Stoppel's murder. On three occasions he was providing information about possible


Police now believe he called them to divert attention from himself and implicate someone else.

Brodsky, intent on breaking through the tunnel vision which was hampering the investigation, said he

provided a list of five suspects to the police.

He even went so far as to cruise the red light district with his wife one evening to find a woman he believed

might have information on one of the suspects.

One of the men Brodsky brought to the attention of police resembled the killer and was rumoured to have

killed Stoppel's schoolmate.

But Brodsky said police did not spend much time pursuing his leads.

"I'm not surprised they didn't take them seriously,'' he said. "Many of (the police and Crown attorneys on

the case) believed they already had the right guy."

Brodsky was the last witness to testify at Sophonow's wrongful conviction inquiry.

Today, Commissioner Peter Cory is expected to rule on whether in-camera evidence about how and why

the Crown attorney introduced a sexual assault motive at Sophonow's third trial should be released to the


The inquiry -- established to determine how much compensation Sophonow should receive for nearly four

years he spent in jail -- will resume with closing submissions from the lawyers in June.

Sophonow was tried three times for Stoppel's murder before being acquitted by the Manitoba Court of

Appeal in 1985.

He was formally exonerated by Winnipeg police last summer.