British Columbia

Kelowna dad pleads guilty to murdering wife and 2 daughters

Jacob Forman has pleaded guilty to three counts of murder in the December 2017 deaths of his wife and two young daughters.

Jacob Forman had argued about the admissibility of confessions made to killings in conversation with RCMP

Jacob Forman has pleaded guilty to killing his wife, Clara, and their children, Yesenia and Karina. (Facebook / Clara Forman)

Jacob Forman has pleaded guilty to three counts of murder in the December 2017 deaths of his wife and two young daughters.

The Kelowna man entered the surprise pleas in B.C. Supreme Court on Thursday, admitting to second-degree murder in the deaths of his wife, Clara Forman, and the first-degree murder of daughters Karina, 8 and Yesenia, 7.

The bodies of all three victims were found at the family's home on Bolotzky Court in the city's Rutland neighbourhood on Dec. 19, 2017. They were discovered after Clara Forman's co-workers called police to report she had not shown up for work.

Forman had entered not guilty pleas earlier this week, but his defence lawyer, Raymond Dieno, said he'd had a change of heart.

"It's a long process ... dealing with his grief about what happened and then understanding the legal consequences of his actions," Dieno told reporters outside the court.

"It just took a long time for him to acknowledge and comprehend the legal ramifications of what he's done."

Dieno said that before he changed his plea, Forman had planned to use a mental state defence against the murder charges. He was in withdrawal from an alcohol addiction at the time of the murder, his lawyer said.

"Alcohol really played a devastating effect on this man's mind, according to him," Dieno said.

Forman's defence team brought in an expert to assess the impact of alcoholism on his actions, and the expert's report factored into his decision to change his plea, according to Dieno.

'He's lost everything in his life'

Forman confessed the murders to police, the court has heard, but he was expected to argue that the statements were involuntary and should not be admitted as evidence.

"I am responsible, but I'm not guilty of what the Crown is saying," he told the judge during a hearing on Tuesday.

Crown has revealed that Forman confessed to the murders during a phone conversation with RCMP officers while he was being detained at the South Okanagan Correctional Centre. He also admitted to the killings in a face-to-face interview the same day.

Forman made similar confessions to his pastor, friends and brother, according to prosecutors.

Dieno said Forman was full of "self-loathing" at the time of the confessions.

"He's lost everything in his life. Those children and his wife were something that he loved very deeply and the result that he's going to have to live with for the rest of his life is devastating to him," Dieno said.

Forman was originally charged with three counts of second-degree murder, but last year the charges related to Karina and Yesenia were upgraded to first-degree murder, which means investigators believe their deaths were premeditated.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Sept. 16.


With files from Brady Strachan