Canada

Parole board denies Latimer's bid for partial freedom

Robert Latimer, the Saskatchewan farmer who is behind bars for killing his disabled daughter, has been denied day parole.

A parole board has denied day parole to Robert Latimer, the Saskatchewan farmer who is behind bars for killing his disabled daughter, saying he refuses to acknowledge his actions were a crime.

The three-person panel of the National Parole Board said they were struck byLatimer'slack of insight into the crime he committed, the CBC's Heather Robinson reported.

Robert Latimer, shown in an undated photo, is serving a life sentence for killing his 12-year-old disabled daughter. ((CBC))

The parole board hearing took place at B.C.'s minimum-security William Head prison on Vancouver Island, where Latimer has been serving his sentence for the second-degree murder of his 12-year-old daughter Tracyon Oct. 24, 1993.

The board saidLatimer should stay in prison and receive more counselling.

It could be another two years before he can apply again for day parole.

The 54-year-old admitted to killing Tracy, who had severe cerebral palsy, by putting her in his truck and pumping carbon monoxide into the cab. He maintained he did it because Tracy was in extreme pain and he wanted to relieve her suffering.

Latimer told the parole board that he doesn't feel guiltyfor killinghis daughterand repeated throughout the hearing that he felt it was the right thing to do.

When asked if he felt he had the moral authority to take someone's life, Latimer said that the laws were less important than the welfare of his daughter, who he said was in a lot of pain.

Behind barssince 2001

The Wilkie, Sask., man has been in prison since the Supreme Court of Canada upheld his murder conviction in January 2001.

By law, he is required to serve a minimum of 10 years before he's eligible for full parole, but rules allow day parole after seven years.

If the board had approved his application, Latimer would still have been required to stay overnight in a secure facility such as a halfway house. Latimer has said he would like to stay in Victoria.

The panel saidthe case was challengingbecause all of Latimer's psychologicaland parole reports said he was a low risk to reoffend if he was released into the community— exceptif he was put into the same situation again.

Complex case

Latimer's case, which was before the courts for seven years, sparked nationwide debate about euthanasia and mandatory sentencing.

His first conviction was thrown out after it was learned that the RCMP, acting on orders from the Crown, had possibly tainted the case by questioning potential jurors about their views on euthanasia, religion and abortion.

At Latimer's second trial in 1997, he was convicted again of second-degree murder. The jury recommended he be eligible for parole after a year, even though the minimum sentence for second-degree murder offersno chance of parole for 10 years.

Justice Ted Noblecalled it a"compassionate homicide" and granted Latimer a constitutional exemption from the minimum sentence.

Advocates for the disabled,however,warned leniency for Latimer through a constitutional exception reduced those with disabilities to second-class citizens.

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal overturned Noble's ruling and imposed the mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years, with no chance ofparole before serving 10 years. In 2001, Canada's top court upheld the conviction and life sentence.

With files from the Canadian Press

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