La­timer seeks new trial or par­don

Winnipeg Free Press - - NEWS -

WILKIE, Sask. — A Saskatchewan farmer who was con­victed of killing his se­verely dis­abled daugh­ter nearly 25 years ago is ap­ply­ing for ei­ther a new trial or a par­don.

Robert La­timer’s Van­cou­ver lawyer, Ja­son Gratl, has filed an ap­pli­ca­tion with Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau and fed­eral Jus­tice Min­is­ter Jody Wil­son-Ray­bould which asks them to con­sider both op­tions.

Gratl al­leges a mis­car­riage of jus­tice in his client’s case. He says that al­though La­timer no longer faces re­stric­tive pa­role con­di­tions, his life sen­tence means he lives un­der the per­ma­nent threat of hav­ing his pa­role re­voked.

La­timer’s daugh­ter, Tracy, had cere­bral palsy fol­low­ing oxy­gen de­pri­va­tion at birth. She was 12 years old in Oc­to­ber 1993 when her fa­ther killed her by pip­ing ex­haust fumes into the cab of his truck.

La­timer ap­pealed af­ter he was con­victed of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der in 1994, and the Supreme Court of Canada or­dered a new trial due to jury in­ter­fer­ence. He was con­victed again, and even­tu­ally sen­tenced to life in prison with no pa­role for 10 years. He was granted day pa­role in Fe­bru­ary 2008, and full pa­role in Novem­ber 2010.

As he’s ex­hausted all of his ap­peals, his new ap­pli­ca­tion is two-pronged.

The first asks for a min­is­te­rial re­view of his case on the grounds that a mis­car­riage of jus­tice oc­curred. It evokes the same sec­tion of the Crim­i­nal Code used by wrong­fully con­victed in­di­vid­u­als such as David Mil­gaard. If the min­is­ter is sat­is­fied, a new trial could be or­dered or the case could be sent back to the Ap­peal Court for a hear­ing.

The sec­ond ar­gu­ment uses the royal pre­rog­a­tive of mercy, which al­lows for a par­don to be granted in rare cases where hu­man­ity and com­pas­sion over­ride the nor­mal ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice. La­timer’s ap­pli­ca­tion cites a par­don granted in 2012 to a group of Al­berta farm­ers who were charged with vi­o­lat­ing what was then the Cana­dian Wheat Board Act by ex­port­ing their own grain.

The ba­sis for La­timer’s ap­pli­ca­tion cen­tres on the pain man­age­ment op­tions the La­timers felt they had for Tracy. Court heard the girl was in se­vere pain af­ter sev­eral surg­eries, and that the La­timers be­lieved the only med­i­ca­tion they could give her was reg­u­lar Tylenol.

Doc­tors tes­ti­fied that putting Tracy on pow­er­ful drugs re­quired to con­trol her pain could be dan­ger­ous or even fa­tal.

Gratl ar­gues the use of more pow­er­ful drugs, or “pal­lia­tive se­da­tion,” was a le­gal op­tion, but the La­timers were not al­lowed to make that de­ci­sion.

“Tracy La­timer’s life should have ended ‘un­in­ten­tion­ally’ as a sec­ondary con­se­quence of her physi­cians’ ad­min­is­tra­tion of opi­ates to al­le­vi­ate her pain; her life should not have ended by her fa­ther’s mer­ci­ful and in­ten­tional ad­min­is­tra­tion of car­bon monox­ide,” the ap­pli­ca­tion reads.

“Robert La­timer is a vic­tim of med­i­cal mal­prac­tice. If Tracy had re­ceived the med­i­cal treat­ment to which she was law­fully en­ti­tled, her fa­ther would never have in­ter­vened.”

The Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion for Com­mu­nity Liv­ing called on the govern­ment on Thurs­day to re­ject the ap­pli­ca­tion.

It noted the Supreme Court high­lighted how Tracy en­joyed mu­sic, bon­fires, be­ing with her fam­ily and the cir­cus.

“A sug­ges­tion that Mr. La­timer had no op­tion but to mur­der his daugh­ter has al­ready been soundly re­jected by the Supreme Court,” the as­so­ci­a­tion said in a news re­lease.

“A par­don for Mr. La­timer would be a di­rect in­jus­tice to Tracy and her legacy, and per­pet­u­ate so­ci­ety’s stigma­ti­za­tion against per­sons who have dis­abil­i­ties.”

TOM HAN­SON / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILES

Robert La­timer is ap­ply­ing for a new trial or a par­don for his sec­ond-de­gree mur­der con­vic­tion.

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