Monday, June 20, 2005

Karla Homolka's pending release

There's always a place where, I suppose, one has to begin. This is definitely not a subject I relish talking about, but here goes ...

Next month, on or before July 5th, a 35 year old woman will emerge from a Québec jail after serving a 12 year sentence for two counts of manslaughter. The only problem is, of course, her crimes could hardly be described as crimes of passion gone wrong. The conviction was a plea bargain cut by desperate prosecutors who needed her testimony against her soon-to-be ex-husband in a horrific series of sex slayings.

And far from being an accessory after the fact or an innocent bystander, she was fully involved in the rape, torture and deaths of her and her husband's victims, Kristen Dawn French and Leslie Erin Mahaffy. She was also thoughtful enough to drug her own sister, Tammy, so she and he could rape her -- only to have the sister die when she choked on her own vomit.

I am, of course, speaking of one Karla Leanne Homolka. She and Paul Bernardo (the latter of whom is serving life without parole for those crimes as well as a series of rapes in Toronto) really brought Southern Ontario into a state of panic, especially after the murders were determined as being committed by the same killers.

I really can't blame the police for cutting a deal with Homolka. After all, they totally bungled the investigation. The murders took place in two different counties, so natural police rivalries kicked in. An eyewitness mistakenly thought the getaway car was a cream-coloured Chevy Camaro, and there was the pathetic scene of over 25,000 Camaros being checked out over the ensuing summer and fall, when in fact the car they really wanted was a gold Nissan 240 SX. (One anonymous caller corrected pointed that out, but the police called a press conference to say that was just plain wrong -- what idiots! They could have caught both of them months before Karla finally turned herself in.)

And no one bothered to check to see whether there could have been a connection to the Toronto rapes because the government lab that was supposed to check DNA samples was swamped, and already under fire for screwing up a fibre analysis in one of the great miscarriages of justice of the 90s -- Guy Paul Morin's wrongful conviction in another sex slaying. (I'll discuss THAT one another time).

Twelve years, however, does seem like an awfully short sentence. While the courts have slapped a section 810.2 order on her (in reference to the federal Criminal Code law that allows prosecutors to see a recognizance of "good behaviour" against someone who has served their sentence), it does look like backtracking for a huge mistake they made. Their mistake, quite simply was this: Karla didn't exactly bother to mention that the crimes -- except the snuff films showing the murders themselves -- were videotaped. The tapes were discovered, in a bathroom ceiling panel, one month AFTER Karla pleaded guilty to the lesser charge. However, since the 30 day statute of limitations to appeal a sentence had passed, they were stuck with the deal they made her.

The state also is red-faced over the fact they bought her story she was a battered woman who was forced to commit the crimes. A battered woman she may have been, I agree, but she clearly knew right from wrong and she made her choice.

Now, and this is where it gets tricky, I can understand the calls for vigilantism. I've even heard some people are taking bets as to how long it'll take for Karla to get murdered once she gets out.

If anyone is within the sound of my voice -- or in viewing range of this post -- I would strongly advise caution. Two wrongs do not make a right. She has to live with what she did. Let a Higher Power deal with her. In the meantime, if she can prove she has learned her lesson and will not do this again, then let her be. She does, however, have to apologize to the nation and especially the families for putting us through this hell in the first place.

I pray she stays out of trouble -- and makes better mind of the company she keeps.

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