Robert Latimer Will be Released on Parole After Killing Disabled Daughter

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 1, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Robert Latimer Will be Released on Parole After Killing Disabled Daughter Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 27
, 2008

Ottawa, Canada ( — A parole board of appeals has reversed a decision by a local parole panel and Robert Latimer, the man who killed his disabled 13-year-old daughter in a so-called mercy killing, will be released. Latimer was serving a life sentence but the National Parole Board Appeal Division is letting him out of prison.

He was originally denied day parole in December because he showed no remorse to a parole panel for killing his 12-year-old daughter Tracy.

Latimer’s lawyers appealed the decision and the appeals board released a written decision Wednesday saying the original ruling is unlawful.

"A delay in releasing you from imprisonment would be unfair," the appeal board wrote, according to CP. "Accordingly, your appeal is allowed, the board’s decision of Dec. 5, 2007 is reversed and you are to be immediately released on day parole."

The lone stipulation of the parole is that Latimer can’t have any legal responsibility for a disabled person.

"This special condition is seen as reasonable and necessary, given the circumstances of your current offence committed against your severely disabled daughter," the board said.

Latimer was a Saskatchewan resident who sparked a national debate on assisted suicide and euthanasia after killing Tracy Latimer, who had cerebral palsy.

As his wife and other children attended church, Latimer put Tracy into the cab of his pickup and allowed exhaust fumes to enter.

A jury found him guilty of second-degree murder in 1994 and the Canada Supreme Court eventually nullified the conviction. A second guilty verdict was later upheld.

Latimer has served just seven years of that sentence.

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association filed an appeal on his behalf and claiming the board violated its own rules.

The group said the board was only supposed to consider whether Latimer would be a danger to the public when considering the appeal — not whether he showed remorse for his crime of killing his daughter.

The three member parole panel determined that Latimer has not shown enough contrition over his actions to be released from prison. They did not come away from the meeting with the belief he would not commit another act of mercy killing.

"We were left with a feeling that you have not developed the kind of sufficient insight and understanding of your actions," Kelly-Ann Speck, who chaired the three-member panel, told Latimer.

A CTV report indicated Latimer replied with a vague "I don’t think so," when asked if he would kill another family member in a similar condition as his daughter, who could not walk or talk and was severely mentally disabled.

Laurie Beachell, of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, told CTV that Canadians should remember that Tracy was the one killed in the incident and that Latimer could have acted differently.

"The most troubling aspect was somehow Robert Latimer seemed to be portrayed as the victim in this case and we were concerned that the real victim, Tracy, was being forgotten in this whole story," he said.

Beachell added: "If a father had murdered a non-disabled child there would have been a public outcry but because the child had a significant disability the public seemed to think that Robert Latimer was justified in what he did — we would say that’s not the case.