Toronto Star

November 5, 1999

Karla tells of `right' to her liberty

Homolka files affidavit in her court challenge

By Michelle Shephard
Toronto Star Crime Reporter

Karla Homolka feels her right to liberty is being thwarted by a warden who refused her a temporary leave, she stated in a sworn affidavit filed in court yesterday.

``My application for escorted temporary absence is of crucial importance for me as it affects my liberty, including my right of parole and statutory release after eight years of imprisonment,'' she wrote.

Homolka has been in custody for six years for her part in the slayings of two Ontario teenagers and her role in the drugging, rape and death of her youngest sister, Tammy. In September, she launched a court challenge of her warden's decision to deny her the opportunity for escorted releases.

She received a 12-year sentence for manslaughter after agreeing to testify at the trial of her former husband Paul Bernardo. He is now serving a life sentence for raping and murdering 14-year-old Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French, 15.

``When I read the Joliette Institution warden's decision refusing my application for escorted temporary absence, it is impossible for me to know how she could put aside all the positive elements included in my file,'' wrote Homolka as one of 10 reasons for her challenge.

News this week of Homolka's application for escorted releases renewed the anger and pain for the families of the slain girls and a public who flooded The Star and phone-in shows across the country with calls.

``The woman is pure evil and a 12-year sentence is in itself ridiculous,'' said one Star reader.

After the contents of Homolka's prison record and her handwritten application for a temporary release were published in The Star, the federal court issued a publication ban on the documents contained in the file. This ban does not apply to Homolka's affidavit, filed yesterday afternoon.

When Homolka's temporary release request was denied, she did not appeal the warden's decision through the prison's internal review process, offered through Corrections Canada, but instead appealed through the courts for judicial review.

Both her mother and lawyer stressed in interviews this week that Homolka is within her rights as a federal inmate to pursue this option. They also criticized the intense media coverage of her life behind bars, something Homolka notes in her affidavit.

Homolka moved from Kingston to `Club Fed'

``I feel that all decisions concerning me are more motivated by the possible reaction of the media instead of being focused on my rehabilitation or even, at a greater extent, the protection of society,'' she said.

Homolka began her sentence at the grotty Kingston Prison for Women but moved to the Joliette prison - dubbed by critics as ``Club Fed'' - in 1997. After serving two-thirds of her sentence, in July, 2001, she will be eligible for release. The only way she can be held for the full 12 years is if prison officials recommend this to Corrections Canada, believing she will be a serious threat to society.

In her affidavit Homolka points to the progress she says she has made while in prison:

``(A)lthough some of the information included in my file may be perceived as being negative, it is clearly outweighed by the number of positive assessments and recommendations.''

A spokesperson from Corrections Canada said she could not comment on the case - filed under the name Karla Leanne Teale - since it is before the courts.

This week was the first time it was reported that Homolka is listed in prison under the last name of Teale. This name comes from a 1989 film about a fictional serial killer named Thiel, pronounced like the colour teal. In 1993, Bernardo officially changed his name to Paul Jason Teale.

In stark contrast to the time Homolka spent in the Kingston prison, always escorted by a guard, walking to the catcalls of other inmates and held in her cell for the majority of each day, her life at the Joliette is less restrictive.

The women in the prison, which has a capacity of 80, roam the leafy grounds and buy groceries on site to prepare in their individual cottage-like residences.

Joliette Institution, in a town of 18,000 about 80 kilometres northeast of Montreal, opened in 1996 as part of a $54 million program to build five federal penitentiaries to replace Kingston's scandal-ridden Prison for Women.

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