‘Karla Homolka,’ first aired by the fifth estate in November of 1997, is a searing investigation into a plea bargain – later dubbed ‘the deal with the devil – struck between Ontario Crown attorneys and Karla Homolka, who was ultimately convicted of manslaughter in one of Canada’s most notorious and grisly murder cases.
In 1995, Homolka’s former husband Paul Bernardo was convicted of the kidnap, rape and murder of Ontario teenagers Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy and sentenced to at least 25 years in prison. Bernardo was classified as a ‘dangerous offender,’ meaning it is unlikely he will ever be set free.
In exchange for pleading guilty to manslaughter and testifying against Bernardo, Homolka was given 12 years in jail – a far lighter sentence than many Canadians believed, and still believe, she deserved.
The fifth estate episode features never-before seen police interview tapes of Homolka, which show her version of events but also betray her shocking callousness about the crimes. Homolka had testified at Bernardo’s trial, but the first time the public saw or heard from her was in this documentary.
The episode has an interview with one of Homolka’s psychiatrists, who spoke on television for the first time about the ‘battered wife syndrome’ diagnosis that was put forward by the defense. The team made Homolka out to be an innocent victim of a murderous lover. But video tapes of the crimes, found after the plea bargain, showed her to be a more active accomplice.
The fifth estate conducted a detailed examination of the case, and the plea bargain, and raised many serious questions about the conduct of the Ontario crown in making that deal.
Karla Homolka was released from prison in July, 2005. She has attempted, with mixed success, to keep out of the public eye.
She changed her name and found work in a suburban hardware store outside of Montreal. But she went back into hiding after her boss revealed her location to the press.
In December, 2007, reports indicated that Homolka left Canada for the Caribbean with her husband – the brother of her former lawyer – and her young son.
In 2012, journalist Paula Todd encountered Homolka – who now had two more children – living with her family in Guadeloupe.
In an unexpected revelation during the trial of Luka Magnotta last year, Homolka’s sister said in her testimony that she had seen Karla recently and that she was once again living in Quebec.