Reasonable Doubt (Free Nyki)

from by Jeff Andrew

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This is a true story about a young woman named Nicole Kish, who is currently serving a life sentence for 2nd Degree Murder in Ontario. All details in this song are taken from the judge's verdict and from mainstream news articles written about the case. To learn more:


Reasonable Doubt

Life swings in the balance
Of a million quick decisions
Which road you choose to walk down
Can make all the difference
Like that night in Toronto
At the end of the summer
When Nicole Kish went out drinking
With some friends from the States

Traveler kids who'd lived their lives
On and off the streets
No strangers to abuse
Persecution and wet feet
When Faith Watts saw Ross Hammond
And George Dranichak on Queen St
At an ATM just off of Euclid
And asked them for some change

Hammond told her to go and be a whore
If she wanted to make some cash
The girls said something back
Harsh words were exchanged
The situation escalated
Until Dranichak threw Douglas Fresh
Into a store front window
And he and Hammond walked away

A block further down the street
Fresh confronted them again
Hammond beat the kid unconscious
Against the side of a streetcar
While a crowd began to form
And someone stabbed Ross Hammond
With Faith Watts' knife
As he kicked her boyfriend's body
Over and over again

In this crooked old world of pain
We gotta find someone to take the blame
Like Milgaard or Truscott or Rubin the Hurricane
We gotta find someone to take the blame
In this crooked old world of pain

As Fresh lay crumpled on the ground
Another fight broke out
This time Hammond got hold of Watts' knife
And used it on Nicole
Two men jumped him from the crowd
Someone shouted "You die tonight!"
At some point during the chaos
Hammond was stabbed again

He was given the wound that killed him
By someone in the crowd
Who was never identified
But when he died two days later
Nicole Kish was charged with murder
Plenty of witnesses came forward
But not one of them said they saw her
Do anything but stand there

In the four years that it took
For her case to come to trial
Not one but two surveillance tapes
Disappeared/got erased
By the Toronto police
Her friends were all deported
While the public rose in anger
As they swallowed the version

Of the "Panhandler Murder"
That the papers reproduced
Where two gentlemen were attacked
By a gang of ruthless punks
Leaving out the section
Where they started the fight themselves
Beat one kid half to death
And left him bleeding on the ground

When the hammer finally came down
Despite the missing evidence
No positive ID
And big holes in the story
A court of law somehow determined
That Nicole Kish was the killer
And cast her into prison
For 2nd Degree Murder


Nicole Kish is a songwriter
A traveler and an artist
She started her own magazine
It was called "Bound For Glory"
While Dranichak and Hammond
Sold pornography online
But were described as "Internet Marketers"
In every press report

About the "Panhandler Murder"
Where it seemed as though a street kid
Had stabbed an upstanding citizen
At an ATM on Queen St.
After he politely refused
To give her money to buy booze
An open and shut case
Except that no one saw her do it

And she never asked them for money
And the so-called victims started the fight
And DNA tests were done
And all they found was a trace of blood
On the bottom of Nyki's shoe
And there was another man there with stab wounds
Caught on tape right after the fight
But when the cops arrived, he vanished

To somewhere in Toronto
Where none of this made any difference
In the eyes of the press
Who already had their killer
Or in the court of Justice Nordheimer
Who called the evidence circumstantial
But sentenced Nyki to life in prison
For 2nd Degree Murder

Wrongful convictions
Happen far more than you'd think
Most victims serving longer sentences
Than those who admit guilt
Because it's hard to show remorse
Or be rehabilitated
For something you didn't do
In the first place


If you think there's no more class war
Then explain how this can happen
While the man who pushed a street kid:
Ariana "Harley" Simpson
In front of a Victoria city bus
On a dark winter night
Was given a one-year sentence
"A tragic accident" they said

So he got manslaughter instead
Despite witnesses who saw him
Push her straight under the wheels
Reinforcing the knowledge
That murder's not really murder
If your victim is a street kid
A prostitute, a peasant
Not white or just plain poor

Rest assured no one will look too hard
For 50 missing women from East Vancouver
But if a millionaire's son gets kidnapped
The whole city goes into shock
200 cops are on the case
Non-stop coverage in the press
And the city doesn't rest
Until he's found

Hemingway said "The world is a fine place
And worth fighting for"
I say "don't get caught standing in the wrong place
Or on the wrong side of the road"
Like that night in Toronto
At the end of the summer
When Nicole Kish went out drinking
With some friends



from Tunnels, Treehouses & Trainsmoke, released October 29, 2013
Jeff Andrew: guitar, vox



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Jeff Andrew Vancouver, British Columbia

Fiddles, horns, double bass and subterranean percussion from the tunnels of East Vancouver. Songs from the road and beyond the grave.

"A backroads troubadour with a few things to say by way of viscera, nerve and hard experience...basically a raunchy Bob Dylan with blood in his teeth." - Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
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