Day parole granted in Canada "mercy killing" case

Wed Feb 27, 2008 6:11pm EST
 
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - A Canadian farmer convicted of the "mercy killing" of his severely handicapped daughter won day parole on Wednesday, with officials saying there was little chance he would kill again.

A National Parole Board appeals board delivered a stinging rebuke to officials who had refused to grant Robert Latimer day parole last year on the grounds that he could not, or would not, explain why he took his daughter's life.

"Your responses at the hearing reveal that you did in fact demonstrate insight and were able to explain why you decided to end the life of your daughter after thirteen years of caring for her," the latest appeals panel wrote.

In a case that sparked national debate on euthanasia, the Saskatchewan farmer was convicted of the 1993 killing of his daughter Tracy, who was born with cerebral palsy and was severely disabled, and had the mental capacity of a 4-month-old baby.

He maintained he killed his daughter out of love and necessity, but advocates for the disabled opposed calls for leniency and argued the girl was not as handicapped as he maintained.

Latimer, 44, was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years.

"It was time for Robert Latimer and his family to have an uptick in their lives and this is it," said Jason Gratl, of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, which had helped represent Latimer in the parole hearings.

The appeals board said there was no undue risk that Latimer would re-offend, but it did order that he not have any responsibility for the care of anyone who is severely disabled.

(Reporting Allan Dowd, editing by Rob Wilson)