Robert Latimer Says He Won't Seek Clemency
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 4, 2004
REGINA, SASKATCHEWAN--Robert Latimer has told the United Church Saskatchewan Conference that he will not ask the Canadian federal government to release him before he has served the mandatory minimum 10 years of a life sentence for murdering his daughter, Tracy.
According to a brief item in Friday's CanadianChristianity.com, Latimer said he would not seek clemency on "compassionate grounds" because it would mean he would have to admit guilt in the murder of his 12-year-old daughter, who had developmental disabilities.
Latimer was responding to the Conference's recent offer to act on his behalf to get him out of the minimum-security facility where he is serving his sentence in British Columbia. He started serving his time in January 2001 and would not be eligible for day parole until 2007.
The Saskatchewan farmer confessed to using exhaust fumes from his pickup truck to kill Tracy on October 24, 1993, while his family was attending Sunday services at Wilkie United Church. He has maintained that 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 cerebral palsy and mental retardation.
Many disability rights advocates have suggested that Latimer murdered Tracy because he was tired of dealing with his own emotional pain and feared the medical profession. 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.
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, and that killing people who have certain disabilities is not only tolerated, but also justified as "merciful".
Polls have indicated that most Canadians sympathize with Latimer and support setting him free.
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.
"Tracy Latimer's Death: Mercy or Murder?" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)