My Wife and Unborn Baby Were Brutally Murdered, Why Does the Law Say My Baby Didn’t Die?

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 12, 2015   |   7:05PM   |   Ottawa, Canada

In Canada, Cassandra Kaake was found bludgeoned to death in a burned-out residence on Benjamin Road on Dec. 11, 2014. Her murder is a tragedy, but she wasn’t the only one who lost a life that night. Her 7-month-old unborn baby girl Molly was killed in the attack too.

Yet, Canadian law says Molly didn’t die that tragic day. The killer will only be held accountable for Cassandra’s death and not charged with any crime at all for killing a baby who was just weeks away from birth. That’s because abortion advocates, in their desire to keep abortion legal, don’t want laws on the books acknowledging the humanity of unborn children — even if they are killed outside the context of abortion, such as in a violent crime against a pregnant women as happened here.

Molly’s father has penned an emotional response to the situation and highlighting the lack of justice for his daughter Molly. The letter is in response to a newspaper column defending the decision not to have a murder charge for Molly’s death:

It is deeply disturbing to me that accountability and justice for the murder of a human life, in particular my daughter’s life, is being sacrificed for the sake of maintaining our flawed legal semantics. In this case the charges are misrepresentative of the reality of the actual crime. It doesn’t take an academic to see that. And because of our flawed definitions we are offering murderers a two for one deal. Don’t people realize that while we argue over semantics we are neglecting the victims and making it easy on the criminals? 

In becoming aware that this problem exists, should we not make it our goal to find a logical way to accurately lay charges that represent the reality of the crime while preserving the established rights of women so that they and only they can choose their own reproductive fate? 

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You say that it is enough for our daughter to be considered as an “aggravating factor” in the sentencing of her mother’s death. What about Molly’s death? Who then carries the responsibility for her death and her name and life on his criminal record?

How can an educated opinion suggest that it is enough to skip charges in the hopes that the judge will toss another couple years at him in lieu of justice?

I am not fool enough to think that – in this world at least – there will ever be true justice for the murder of Cassie and Molly. Even if we could draw and quarter the person responsible, he would have only one life to give. But that is my emotional response. Logically, as a civilized society, shouldn’t we be striving for charges that better represent the reality of the situation? Omitting an entire part of this sick reality comes at a cost, not only to all the surviving victims, but to the dignity and fair representation of the lives we mourn.

You speak as though the sole purpose of justice is to issue punishment.

I thought that the purpose of justice was not only to issue punishment but to provide solace and restitution to the victims by recognizing the criminal action against them. By ignoring, all or in part, the indignity a victim suffers, you deny them the ability to heal back into a civilized society that deters and protects against such offences.


I think that justice is as much for the victims as it is for the criminals.

You are suggesting that we sacrifice charges in such cases for the sake of “preserving a woman’s right to autonomy and privacy.”

What about Cassie’s autonomy that was brutally and violently taken away? It was not her choice for the baby to die. I think that is the elephant in the room you are ignoring to get to the allusion that this has something to do with reproductive rights.

You rationalize that because it is rare that a pregnant woman is murdered the law should not be changed to provide legal protection because “there is potential” to harm woman’s rights. Don’t you think that is exactly when a woman needs the most protection from the law? Don’t you see a contradiction here?

If this sort of thing happened all the time would we see fit to change the law so it accurately represents the reality that when you kill a pregnant woman two lives are lost?

You say, “Rather than laws which attempt to give legal recognition to the fetus, we need more resources for shelters and counsellors,” and that we need, “better training for lawyers and police to better understand the nature, and consequences, of violence against women and, in particular, domestic violence.”

So we don’t need a law against a third party killing an unborn baby because women should be able to anticipate such acts of violence? They should see this sort of thing coming and we’ll just build more shelters for them when they do? I am not a woman – yet I am deeply offended by this inference.

And really does it matter if it qualifies as domestic violence if a pregnant woman gets murdered? How should that make any difference at all in how we treat the crime? Shouldn’t our law reflect consequence for what we are taking measures to prevent?

I ask you along with all the other academics this: what is the purpose of justice?

If its purpose is merely to punish the criminal, then I suppose my expectations may be a bit out of line. But if the answer has anything to do with acknowledgement to the victims and clearly establishing the difference between right and wrong, then I am telling you – we are seriously falling short of justice’s true purpose.

I am of course speaking as Molly’s father. But I suspect my mood and temper are a reflection of an entire community that is waking up to this injustice. Your ‘good enough’ perspective is not nearly good enough.

If the unborn victims of crime act in your opinion is not the answer then I ask you what is? And I remind you that anything less than accounting for Cassie’s autonomy and the autonomy and life of Molly, is not good enough. Complacency or outright dismissal that there is a problem here is not good enough. Leaving this sinkhole open for another person, another family, and another community to fall into is not good enough.

It remains my goal to have Bill C-484 revisited by parliament. I need the help with that. How they choose to reword or rephrase the bill to ethically fit into our social structure is up to them. As a victim of this crime I am telling you that “pro-lifers” and “pro-choicers” are missing the point. The point is justice for the killing of two lives. The point is Molly and Cassandra.


Molly’s father – Jeff Durham