Toronto Sun

Friday, November 5, 1999

Bernardo could get a boost

By LAURA BOBAK, TORONTO SUN

Karla Homolka's bid for temporary absences from prison could bolster Paul Bernardo's appeal of his first-degree murder convictions, his lawyer says.

Homolka's application for permission to temporarily leave her prison in Joliette, Que., to spend time in a Montreal halfway house includes two supportive letters from jurors who convicted Bernardo of first-degree murder in the killings of Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy in 1995.

"Would they be writing the same letter if they thought that she was the killer?" asked Bernardo's appeal lawyer Tony Bryant.

"It may prove to be somewhat useful in terms of the presentation of our appeal," he said, explaining he is disputing a decision to admit evidence at Bernardo's trial that Homolka was a battered woman.

"Whether it was proper or not, I can't imagine that having any impact on the mindset of the jury," lawyer Tim Danson, who represents the French and Mahaffy families. "I think the majority of jurors would have convicted her of first-degree murder too, if she was sitting in the box."

Bernardo is seeking a new trial on his first-degree murder convictions. Lawyer Paul Burstein, who is working with Bryant, said the appeal disputes an instruction to jurors that to convict Bernardo of anything less than first-degree murder, they'd have to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Homolka was the killer.

Instead, Burstein said, jurors should have been told they could convict Bernardo of a charge less than first-degree murder if they thought it a possibility Homolka killed the two schoolgirls.

Copyright © 1999, Canoe Limited Partnership.