Saturday, June 04, 2005

Karla Homolka’s Release Restricted - Christine

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ST. CATHARINES, Ont. (CP) - The triumphant architects of a plan to restrict Karla Homolka's freedom celebrated a victory for her victims Friday while critics of the effort to rein in Canada's most notorious female inmate denounced it as a miscarriage of justice.

Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant, whose ministry agreed in 1993 to the deal that gave Homolka just 12 years in prison for her role in the deaths of schoolgirls Kristen French, Leslie Mahaffy and her sister Tammy, hailed the decision by Quebec Judge Jean Beaulieu.

"Today, Canada's justice system acted - not reacted, acted - to prevent harm upon Homolka's release and to protect the public upon Homolka's release," said a visibly pleased Bryant, who spearheaded the effort.

Bryant said his thoughts would be with the French and Mahaffy families.

"This has been a brutal period for them; to have to relive this yet again has been particularly difficult," he said.

"I will certainly do all I can to protect Ontarians and to work with attorneys across the country to protect Canadians upon her release."

Tim Danson, the lawyer for the families, said from Montreal that his clients were relieved with the outcome of the hearing.

"The Frenches expressed enormous relief, and they're very pleased with the decision," as well as grateful for all the public support they've received, Danson said.

"They're also relieved that Karla Homolka did not get away with what they perceived to be just another attempt to manipulate the system."

The families see Homolka as the "master manipulator," he added, and the whole suggestion that she doesn't represent a threat to public safety as "a continuation of a con."

Homolka will face a range of restrictions for a year once she's released from jail in the weeks to come, including that she stay in touch with police, avoid consorting with children under 16 and stay away from ex-husband Paul Bernardo.

"That hasn't happened for about 12 years so I can't imagine that's about to start now," Bernardo's lawyer, Tony Bryant, laughed sardonically in an interview.

Bryant, whose client was convicted in 1995 of two counts of first-degree murder, sentenced to life in prison and declared a dangerous offender, said he's not convinced Homolka poses a threat to society.

"From what we know of her in the past, and the fact that we've had 12 years go by, I would expect there's been some significant maturing on her part," he said.

"It may not show to the layman on the street from the photos and the artist's sketches from the courtroom, but I just don't get the sense that there's any real threat."

If Homolka had a mind to commit a crime, the restrictions she earned Friday likely wouldn't be much of a disincentive, he added.

"What's it going to do? So she's got to go to the police station or show up somewhere. How does that stop anybody from doing anything?"

She must also stay away from her victims, report to police once a month after her release, advise them of her address and let them know who she's living with.

Parents watching their children enjoy carousel rides in the park down the street from where Bernardo and Homolka committed their crimes were delighted by the news.

"I think, as a parent, any restrictions make me feel somewhat more safe, if there is such a thing," said Nikki Jenkins, 38.

"I think she destroyed the innocence of a small community that always thought they were safer than the big city."

Residents agreed their quiet lakeside community changed for the worse after the disappearance of Kristen French.

"Everybody was worried about letting their children walk home from school," said Catherine MacDonald, 37, who lived down the street from the church where French was abducted.

"Everybody changed. To this day I'll say to my daughter, 'it happens here.' "

Although Homolka would have to give four days notice before visiting her ailing father, those in her hometown say she's not welcome under any circumstances.

"People around here don't want to see her at all," said Leah Cochrane, 31, whose brother was a close friend of French's.

"I'd be surprised if Homolka didn't get attacked on the street if she walked anywhere in St. Catharines."

The murders are still an open wound for the community where few, if any, have forgotten or forgiven.

"They named her right when they said they were dealing with the devil," said Cynthia Jesty, 43.

"She's rancid. She's horrible."

The attorney general said the recognizance order against Homolka will ensure not only the safety of the public, but also of Homolka herself.

"Our responsibility in pursuing a recognizance order is to ensure that the justice system does something to ensure that in fact we don't have mob rule," Michael Bryant said.

"We have been able to obtain a set of conditions to ensure that we can monitor and we can ensure that we can protect the public and that we can prevent any harm from taking place after she's released."

Friday's ruling came after an extraordinary two-day hearing that saw Homolka step into the public eye for the first time since 1995, when she testified at Bernardo's first-degree murder trial in the deaths of French and Mahaffy.

That testimony came after Homolka secured a deal that saw her agree to plead guilty to two counts of manslaughter and serve 12 years in prison in exchange for her testimony against Bernardo, a man she depicted as a violent and controlling psychopath.

Homolka secured her deal before Crown officials were made aware of videotapes made by the couple that depicted the vicious rapes and torture of both French and Mahaffy - evidence that depicted Homolka as Bernardo's willing accomplice.

But it was Crown officials who made the mistake of offering Homolka the deal in the first place, when they already had enough evidence to ensure she'd be convicted, said Stephen Williams, the author of two best-selling books on the case.

Williams said the section of the Criminal Code used to place restrictions on Homolka, Section 810, didn't exist in 1993 when she made her so-called "deal with the devil" with Crown officials.

"I think this outcome is outrageous, and I think it's absurd," Williams said. "I expected with this ruling, because I don't think we're dealing with profound legal minds at this level of the court system."

Christine's Note - Karla remains where she should - in spite of legal plea bargains/immunity for Karla's testimony, the new evidence presented after her "deal" clearly indicate that she was an active participant in the muders and remains a danger to society. murders.

Thanks to CKNW - link below

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