Convicted child killer Robert Latimer was granted day parole by an appeal board in February and then released in mid-March.
Latimer, who killed his daughter Tracy, who had cerebral palsy, in 1993 and was convicted by two juries of second-degree murder, began his 10-25 year sentence in 2001, after the Supreme Court affirmed a lower court decision. In December, the National Parole Board found Latimer insufficiently remorseful and exhibiting a 10 per cent chance to reoffend in denying him day parole (early release to a halfway house). But the appeal division of the parole board ruled on Feb. 27 that he was not “an undue risk to society” and criticized the original decision as “unreasonable.” It also claimed that delaying release of Latimer was “unfair” to him.
Latimer was released to a halfway house in Ottawa, which he reported to after visiting with his family for three days to see his sick mother. But disability activists were concerned about the location for his requested release: the nation’s capital. Laney Bryenton, executive director of the B.C. Association for Community Living, said he was worried that Latimer would spend his time in Ottawa lobbying for changes to Canada’s laws to permit “mercy killing.”
Latimer has said he would like a new trial, despite the fact he has seemingly exhausted his legal options, and wants to have the law changed. He has not elaborated how he will go about doing this.
Disability groups are also worried about the message the parole board sent to the public about the value of people with disabilities. Jim Derksen, of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, said, “We would be concerned if people misunderstood his parole as giving any sanction to the kind of murder he committed on his daughter.”
Ted Kuntz, past-president of Planned Lifetime Advocacy and father of an adult disabled son, told Canada AM that the decision definitely sends the wrong message. “It’s a message about whether its OK to kill your child because they have a disability,” he said. “I don’t think it’s the right decision.”
Latimer was released with only two conditions: he must not have responsibility for any individual with a severe disability and he must participate in psychological counselling to address emotional issues and to cope with the stress of reintegration into society.