Saskatchewan News Index
Top News Stories

Conflict And Struggle

Latimer Guilty
Minimum 10 Years In Jail
For Second-Degree Murder

Saskatoon Star Phoenix
November 12, 1994. p.1

By Warren Goulding

Battleford -- It was a verdict that family members called yet another tragedy.

A jury has convicted Robert Latimer, 41, of second-degree murder in the death of his 12-year old daughter Tracy Lynn in October 1993.

The girl was born with cerebral palsy and was in constant pain. Latimer admitted to police that he killed the youngster to spare her the pain.

The six-woman, five-man jury returned its verdict Wednesday afternoon after deliberating for about four hours.

When the jury foreman announced the verdict, Latimer turned to his wife, Laura, who was in tears. The couple embraced and Latimer led his wife from the courtroom to an adjoining room to await sentencing.

The penalty for second-degree murder is a life sentence with a minimum of 10 years in prison before becoming eligible for parole. The jury recommended to Justice Ross Wimmer that Latimer be given the minimum sentence.

Wimmer agreed, adding, "there is no joy in this for anyone."

The Queen's Bench justice rejected a motion by defence lawyer Mark Brayford who had asked for lighter sentence under Section 12 of the Charter of Rights. The section allows a judge discretion in sentencing if the punishment is deemed to be cruel and unusual.

Latimer spoke briefly before he was sentenced.

"I still feel what I did was right," he said in a clear voice. "I don't think you people are being human."

After her husband had been taken into custody, Laura gave an emotional condemnation of the decision on the steps of the Battleford courthouse.

"When Tracy was a few months old, she began having seizures every minute, every day for months. Our already severely handicapped daughter became more handicapped.

"That wasn't a crime, was it?" she asked rhetorically.

"When she got older she had surgery after surgery. They were possibly going to do surgery where they were going to cut the top part of her leg off and her leg would have been there forever floppy.

"That wouldn't be a crime, would it?

"Tracy could have laid there suffering for years and years and that wouldn't be a crime," Laura said.

"Now the justice system can take my husband, a good and loving father, and take him and put him through whatever hell they want to.

"Whatever hell they put him through will not begin to match the hell our little girl went through.

"The only thing that is keeping Bob and I going is thinking about Tracy."

Family members, including a half-brother and sisters who sat behind Latimer throughout the two-week trial, were crushed by the verdict but vowed to continue to support a brother who they feel did no wrong.

"Bob is at peace with himself," said brother-in-law Frank Mosienko, who along with his wife Marj had come from Ottawa to be with Latimer for the trial.

Dale Donald, Latimer's oldest half-brother, said he was disappointed with the outcome.

"It's unfortunate that this couldn't have been handled in some other way."