Ten Years After Tracy's Death, Robert Latimer Says It Was Right To
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 26, 2004
METCHOSIN, BRITISH COLUMBIA--On October 24, 1993, Robert Latimer sat in the back of his pickup truck and watched as the engine pumped exhaust into the cab which held his 12-year-old daughter Tracy. When he was certain she was dead, he took her body into the family's Saskatchewan farm house and put her to bed.
Latimer initially denied allegations that he killed Tracy. But two days later he confessed, saying he did it out of love for the girl -- that it was a "mercy killing" motivated by his desire to not see her "continue to suffer" from her developmental disabilities.
Three years ago this month, Latimer started serving a mandatory minimum 10 years of a life sentence for murdering Tracy. He will be eligible for parole in 2007.
In an interview with the Toronto Star, Latimer said Friday that he has no regrets or apologies for his crime.
"It was the right thing to do," Latimer said at the minimum-security William Head Institution where he is now serving his sentence.
"To our opponents, Tracy's pain was a side issue, something they are very capable of ignoring," he said. "But to us, it was a very real situation confronting us every day."
Many disability rights advocates have suggested that Latimer murdered Tracy because he was tired of dealing with his own emotional pain. Some people who knew Tracy said that even though the girl did not speak, she let them know how much she loved people and enjoyed life. Others point to the fact that when Tracy died, she was scheduled to undergo pain-relieving hip surgery a few days later.
The Latimer case has been the focus of attention for disability rights advocates around the world who see it as one of countless examples that society in general does not think the lives of people with disabilities are important -- that killing people who have certain disabilities is not only tolerated, but also justified as "merciful".
Latimer believes most Canadians are on his side, even though he clearly broke the law.
"It's their game and you have to play by their rules," he said of the justice system.
University of Alberta psychology professor Dick Sobsey noted that Canada experienced a marked increase in the incidence of "altruistic filicide" -- the killing of a child out of a belief that death is in the child's best interest -- in the years immediately after Tracy's murder.
"Latimer 10 years on: No regrets" (Toronto Star)
"Tracy Latimer's Death: Mercy or Murder?" (Inclusion Daily Express)