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The Demeter Murder Trial

Tuesday, January 29, 2019 3:52 PM

1974: A dense, grisly courtroom drama is front page news for 11 weeks. Hungarian-born real estate mogul Peter Demeter is on trial for the murder of his wife, who was found dead in the garage of their Mississauga Road in July, 1973.

Demeter vehemently denies any involvement. One thing is certain: someone bludgeoned Christine Demeter to death. If there is such a thing as a tidy murder, this is not it. The 33-year-old model is shown lying face down in a pool of blood beside the family Cadillac.

The marathon trial is a revolving door of shady characters, expert witnesses, petty criminals, an ex-boxer, a mistress, European relatives and even a hooded man known as Mr. X. The jury and spectators are treated to a litany of the couple’s martial troubles, lavish lifestyle, affairs, and murder contracts taken out by both on each other. A wiretap is authorized and used. 

A media circus ensues. At one point, Demeter tries to collect on a 1 million dollar insurance policy he had on his wife. A CBC interview with a juror is seized by Police.

Under a mass of evidence and public scrutiny, Demeter is already guilty in the court of public opinion. But he is being represented by a young Edward Greenspan and his boss Joseph Pomerant, who put up a vigorous defence. 

After much deliberation, the judge delivers instructions to the jury that completely gut any chance of an acquittal. Greenspan is so affected by the judge’s 3 1/2 hour speech that he rises to his feet shaking. Demeter is found guilty. 

In a cruel twist of fate, one of the jurors - a 62-year-old war veteran with a bad heart who’d been sequestered for 24 days - goes home and dies.