GENTECH archive 8.96-97

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Latimer retrial (fwd)





---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 7 Feb 1997 09:07:16 -0700 (MST)
From: Gregor Wolbring <gwolbrin@acs.ucalgary.ca>
To: plan@enterprise.net, "CHERYL M. ECKSTEIN" <75353.2634@compuserve.com>,
    Dick Sobsey <Dick.Sobsey@UAlberta.CA>,
    carol gill <cgill@interaccess.com>,
    "mcgee@mail.med.upenn.edu" <mcgee@mail.med.upenn.edu>,
    Rita Marker <rmarker@weir.net>, marsha saxton <ml@world.std.com>,
    longmore@sfsu.edu
Subject: Latimer retrial (fwd)



---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 7 Feb 1997 08:52:07 -0700
From: ICAD Editors <icad_editors@psych.educ.ualberta.ca>
Subject: Latimer retrial


The Canadian Supreme Court ruled yesterday that Robert Latimer's confession
of
killing his 13-year-old daughter Tracy who had cerebral palsy was admissible
in
court, but set aside his second-degree- murder conviction because of
irregularities in jury selection. As a result a new trial will be held.

Two decades ago Latimer was convicted in a case involving the sexual assault
of a
minor but the conviction was revoked on appeal because his lawyers were not
allowed to attack the girl's sexual history. The prosecution never took that
case
back to court. Perhaps this explains why Mr Latimer seemed surprised that he
will
have to undergo a second trial in this case. Latimer responded to the news
that
he would be retried calling the Sakatchewan government "a bunch of backwood,
blood-thirsty butchers" who "have no limits on how far you can torture a
person."


Although it has been argued that Mr. Latimer acted to spare his dughter from
further suffering, and that he should reeceive a lighter or sentence because
of
his humane intent, he never took the stand in the first trial, so that the
notion
of "compassionate murder" is based only on hearsay and assumption. While it
is
important to clearly recognize such acts as unacceptable, even if such intent
were clearly demonstrated, the belief that the courts should act on an
ASSUMPTION
of humane intent is an important issue for people with disabilities and other
advocates for crime victims. The so-called evidence that Mr. Latimer was
acting
in his daughter's interests consists primarily of evidence of the severe
nature
of her disability. For this to be accepted would imply that EVEN WITHOUT ANY
DIRECT EVIDENCE OF INTENT, the mere existence of a severe disability would be
enough to excue the killing of an individual, even when that individual (as
in
the the case of Tracy Latimer) had no part in the decision that she should
die.

dick.sobsey@ualberta.ca