Canadian air commander pleads guilty to murders

Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:30pm EDT
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VANCOUVER (Reuters) - A former commander of Canada's largest military base pleaded guilty to murdering two women and a long list of sex crimes committed in the shadows of his decorated career, Canadian media reported Monday.

Col. Russell Williams admitted his guilt in a crowded Belleville, Ontario. court that heard graphic details of how he would break into homes - at first to just to steal women's lingerie but later to sexually assault and kill his victims.

Williams, whose duties have included piloting the jet used by the prime minister and Britain's royal family in Canada, was arrested in February for the death of a women near the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton, Ontario, where he was commander.

Williams was later charged with the November 2009 murder of a female soldier at the base who had also worked as a flight attendant on airplanes he had flown and who had disappeared in November 2009.

Williams, pleaded guilty Monday to more than 80 crimes over more than two years, including murder, sexual assault and burglary in a case that has gripped public attention and shook the upper echelons of Canada's military establishment.

Williams stood motionless as prosecutors read out details of the crimes he had admitted, and showed photograph he told of himself wearing undergarments stolen from the victims, media at the court reported.

The list of crimes so lengthy that it was expected to take prosecutors more than a day to read out the details before he is sentenced. Murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Canada has no death penalty.

Canada's chief of defense staff said Williams, 47, would be kicked out of the military "as quickly as possible" now that he has admitted his guilt.

"Today's guilty plea is the first step in a healing process that will no doubt take many years," Gen Walt Natynczyk said in a statement.

(Reporting by Allan Dowd; Editing by Frank McGurty)

<p>Colonel Russell Williams poses in lingerie stolen during various fetish break-ins for lingerie in this combination of evidence photos released by the court. Williams pleaded guilty October 18, 2010 to more than 80 charges, including two counts of first-degree murder, two sexual assaults and dozens of fetish break-ins for lingerie documented in lurid photos. REUTERS/Handout</p>