Legal history was made Monday, as a Hamilton man was in a Kitchener court to stand trial for a fourth time for the same first degree murder charge. Robert Badgerow came to his fourth trial with his father and step mother and once again, in a gravelly voice, pleaded not guilty to the murder of Diane Werendowicz.
Diane Werendowicz was out celebrating her 24th birthday with friends on June 19, 1981. The nursing assistant left at about midnight to walk home, she was found by children the next morning, partially clothed and face down in a creek. Her death remained a cold case for 17 years, until advances in DNA science. Robert Badgerow was a Dofasco steelworker, married with three kids, when he was arrested in the late 90s. He was first tried for her murder in 2001, that conviction was overturned on appeal. The next two trials ended in hung juries. Badgerow spent 11 years behind bars, he’s now out on bail.
When it was time to start choosing a jury several people stood and asked to be excused as jurors. Several of them shook and cried as they stood in front of the judge and all the potential jurors and explained that they too had been victims of violent sexual assault and they couldn’t be impartial tryers of the fact in this case. There was also what the judge called a “glitch” in the jury selection process today, due to human error by court staff. 16 people who were called for jury duty were mistakenly left out of the drum that is rolled and used to randomly select jurors for each panel during the process. They were still sitting in their seats when the rest of the jury was chosen, and it took awhile to figure out why. Now everyone has to go back on Wednesday and the jury selection process will start over, almost from the beginning.