Calgary Sun

January 13, 2001

Supreme Court rules Thursday on Latimer

Calgary Sun

OTTAWA (CP) -- Canada's highest court will rule Thursday on the fate of Robert Latimer, the Saskatchewan farmer convicted of killing his severely disabled daughter.

The decision by seven Supreme Court of Canada judges will end years of public debate over what should become of the man who says he killed 12-year-old Tracy Latimer in 1993 out of love.

Along with an impending judgment on the law governing possession of child pornography, the Latimer case is among the court's most anticipated rulings.

Tracy, born with severe cerebral palsy and suffering from chronic pain, died when her dad piped carbon monoxide into the cab of his pickup with her inside.

Latimer said he believed a pending operation would only worsen his daughter's agony.

His lawyers argued last June that the mandatory second-degree murder sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years would be "cruel and unusual," given the circumstances.

Advocates for the disabled who packed the courtroom said anything less would undermine the rights of society's most vulnerable.

"What Mr. Latimer did has nothing to do with love, let alone too much love," Mel Graham, spokesman for the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, said yesterday.

"Mr. Latimer is a murderer and that's that."

He said his group is confident the court will impose on Latimer the same sentence given others convicted of the same crime.

Anything less would fly in the face of the legal consequences that murder and sentencing are supposed to entail, he added.

"We can't have separate standards that involve the murder of disabled people."

Latimer has been found guilty twice, but his first conviction was thrown out by the Supreme Court because the Crown interfered with jury selection.

The trial judge after Latimer's second conviction imposed a two-year sentence with one year to be served in jail. That ruling was overturned by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal which handed down the mandatory sentence of at least 10 years behind bars.

Copyright © 2001, Canoe Limited Partnership.