Virtual Library of Newspaper Articles

Court set to weigh terms of Homolka's freedom

CTV news network,

Little more than a month before her scheduled release, Karla Homolka's future will be argued in a Quebec court Thursday.

Homolka is set to walk away from a Joliette, Que. prison within weeks, but a team of Ontario lawyers is seeking to ensure that she won't be free to reoffend when she does.

Under the direction of Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant, they intend to present evidence that could lead Judge Jean Beaulieu to impose further restrictions on the notorious criminal.

The Crown lawyers have kept tight-lipped about exactly what the evidence is, however.

"I cannot comment on that right now," lead Ontario lawyer James Ramsay told reporters Wednesday.

It is expected the lawyers will invoke Section 810 of the Criminal Code to ensure authorities can keep tabs on Homolka when she is released from prison.

Under Sec. 810, a judge can restrict someone's movements and associations, and even impose curfews, if there are grounds to believe they are a threat to the public.

"It is about considering whether or not a person who is being released and completed her sentence, in fact, should have restrictions placed on her and should be monitored,'' Bryant said.

But, considering that conditions imposed under Sec. 810 will only remain in effect for one year, CTV News has learned Ontario lawyers will seek a number of conditions on her release, including:

* that she not associate with anyone with a criminal record
 * that she report to police twice a month
 * that she give police four days notice before travelling to Ontario, including a complete itinerary
 * that she not use any drugs or alcohol
 * that she stay away from parks, playgrounds and community centres

By next month, Homolka, 35, will have served her entire 12-year sentence for the manslaughter deaths of schoolgirls Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy and her role in her sister Tammy's death.

The brutal nature of those crimes, however, and the so-called "deal with the devil" that saw Homolka get 12 years in exchange for testimony against her then-husband Paul Bernardo, has made her complete freedom an uneasy proposition.

Speaking out

Mary Smith, who spent five years in the same prison residence as Homolka, once considered her to be a best friend.

But now, recalling how Homolka used to talk about the death of her younger sister, Smith says she remains convinced the schoolgirl killer is still a danger.

"Karla has no remorse and it's sad," Smith told CTV. "She didn't think she did anything wrong ... She's very cold when she talks about her it's like nothing, it's like losing a pair of socks."

Smith's view is not shared by Homolka's psychiatrist, who told a Montreal newspaper the public is under no threat whatsoever.

But one of the jurors from the Paul Bernardo trial still wishes lawmakers could do more than just restrict Homolka or temporarily keep her in custody.

"I wish she was locked up forever but that's not a possibility," Tina Daenzer told CTV News.

Years after observing Homolka on the stand, Daenzer is haunted by memories of the slain schoolgirls. Especially by the horrifying images of their rape and torture that police found hidden in Homolka and Bernardo's home -- only after the Crown had struck its plea agreement.

"I think about their moms, those girls, I think about the life they never had and how their moms never got a chance to see them grow up, graduate and get married. I get angry that so much attention is focused on Karla."

In fact, interest in the day's proceedings is so great that two overflow rooms have been set up at the court to accommodate the curious.

Tim Danson, the lawyer for the victims, will be among those keeping a close eye on the unfolding events.

"Obviously, speaking for the family and on behalf of Jane Doe, we're very concerned that Karla Homolka represents a very serious threat to public safety. This is a very serious application. We have some concerns that it's happening in Quebec or any other province in Canada other than Ontario," Danson said.

"I think when this is all done the families may be seeking consultation with the federal officials to amend the Criminal Code because it is our view that 810 applications should be taking place in the venue where the crime took place and where there's the knowledge of what took place."

Meanwhile, Homolka's father said none of her family members will be waiting to greet her when she emerges from prison.

Karel Homolka said he's not quite ready to rebuild his relationship with his eldest daughter.

"Someday, I guess," the senior Homolka told The Canadian Press from his home in St. Catharines, Ont.

With reports from CTV News and The Canadian Press

Copyright 2002-2006 Bell Globemedia Inc.