Toronto Star

November 3, 1999

Kind words from two Bernardo jurors

Letters of support included in application by Karla Homolka

By Jim Rankin
Toronto Star Staff Reporter

Karla Homolka's court bid for escorted temporary releases from prison provides a rare glimpse into the minds of two of the jurors who convicted her estranged husband, Paul Bernardo, her accomplice in the slayings of Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French.

Erma Stultz and Sandy (George) Bateman, Nos. 10 and 7 on the 12-person jury that found Bernardo guilty in 1995, sent letters of support to Homolka's family shortly after the emotionally draining four-month trial.

It's unlikely they know that their letters - along with dozens of others written by strangers to Homolka herself - are now part of the application for release.

Stultz, an international development consultant, told Homolka's mother Dorothy, in a letter dated Sept. 16, 1995, that she was in ``awe'' of the woman for testifying and sitting through the trial, which included graphic evidence of her daughter's involvement in the torture and killings of Mahaffy, French and the fatal drugging and rape of her own sister, Tammy.

``Ever since I watched you in the witness box giving responses to questions in the most objective way you possibly could, I have been in awe of your strength and your apparent determination to try to understand,'' reads the letter, part of the 317-page application obtained by The Star.

``As I watched you come every day to support Karla when she was on the stand, I wondered how you were able to face the people around you who don't stop to think what this has meant to you,'' wrote Stultz.

Stultz went on to express her support for the crown's decision to give Homolka a 12-year manslaughter sentence for the three deaths in exchange for a guilty plea and her testimony at Bernardo's trial. In fact, Stultz cited the critical ``frenzy'' created by the deal - labelled by many the ``deal with the devil'' - as the reason she wrote the letter.

``In particular, one of the juror's (sic) spoke out with some (negative) comments about Karla that I found very offensive and were certainly not representative of the rest of us,'' reads the one-page letter.

``I do not believe that she is a threat to society now. It is to Karla's credit that she is pursuing a university degree and learning all she can to try to understand her own role in her relationship with Paul.''

Stultz expressed her hope that Homolka will one day be in a position to help ``other young women who are trapped in abusive relationships.''

(At Bernardo's trial, the crown contended Homolka was a battered woman coerced into participating in the murders of French and Mahaffy, and the fatal assault on her sister.)

Bateman, an Air Canada pilot, addressed his letter to the entire Homolka family. In it, he wrote of the impact the trial had on him personally, and of a post-trial visit he made to the grave of Tammy Homolka.

(Tammy, 15, was drugged and raped by the couple on Dec. 24, 1990. She died hours later in hospital. It wasn't until Homolka and Bernardo were charged in 1993 with the Mahaffy and French slayings that the facts of Homolka's younger sister's death were revealed.)

``I feel I've come to know your daughter and now in the aftermath I feel a sense of loss,'' wrote Bateman. ``On Saturday, the day after the trial ended, I drove down to St. Catharines and among other things visited Victoria Lawn to pay my respects to Tammy. It's a lovely setting. It will not be my last visit.''

Bateman expressed his belief that Homolka was abused by Bernardo.

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