Some Info About Robert Latimer

[6 February 1997]

Is Tracy's murder the only crime that Latimer has been charged with?

No. Saturday Night magazine reports in 1974, a jury found Latimer guilty of rape of a minor in Wilkie, Saskatchewan; but, on appeal, Latimer got off on a technicality. The Crown did not attempt a re-trial. Consequently, the rape trial was not discussed during his murder trial. In his dissenting decision in the Latimer murder trial, Judge Bayda described Latimer as "a typical, salt of the earth, 42 year old farmer...", "a loving caring nurturing person" and "not a murderous thug, devoid of conscience, whose life has been one of violence, greed, contempt for the law and total disrespect for human beings." In light of his past history, Latimer seems less kindly than he purports to be. Coincidentally, Judge Bayda was the presiding judge in the trial that convicted Latimer of rape in 1974. Is it possible he forgot his earlier court experience with Latimer?

How much jail time has Robert Latimer done in connection with his murder of Tracy?

Latimer has done virtually no jail time in connection with his murder of Tracy. Currently, Latimer is living on his farm.

When was Tracy murdered?

Tracy was murdered on Sunday, October 24, 1993.

When did Robert Latimer confess his murder?

Latimer first lied and tried to conceal what he had done. Prior to the autopsy, Latimer said that Tracy died in her sleep. When the autopsy proved that Tracy died of carbon monoxide poisoning, Latimer confessed to gassing her in his truck and then putting her in bed.

How did Latimer murder Tracy?

He put her in the front seat of his truck beside the steering wheel. He attached a hose to the exhaust pipe and put the other end through a narrow opening in the cab's rear window. He then started the engine at 11:30 a.m. In seconds the truck filled with lethal fumes. Latimer told the police, "I let it run until noon. I was timing all this stuff. I was sitting there watching through the back window."

Did Latimer consider using other methods to kill his daughter?

Yes. He looked at giving her an overdose of valium or shooting her and then burning her body in a fire. The Crown Prosecutor called it a "calculating scheme".

What did Tracy Latimer's mother feel about her?

She wished Tracy "would just go to sleep and not wake up." "We lost Tracy when she was born," said Laura Latimer during her court testimony.

Does Latimer express any guilt or remorse?

No. "I honestly don't believe there was ever any crime committed," stated Robert Latimer in a CBC video, entered by the Crown as evidence.

When did Robert Latimer decide to kill his daughter?

In his confession, Robert Latimer said he decided to kill Tracy 12 days prior to actually committing the murder. He made the decision after learning Tracy's doctor had offered surgery to remedy Tracy's pain from a chronic hip dislocation.

What distinguishing feature defines first degree murder?

Murder must be premeditated to be first degree.

Of what crime was Robert Latimer tried and convicted in regard to his daughter's death.

Robert Latimer was tried and convicted of second degree murder.

Why did Robert Latimer dislike the idea of surgery as a remedy for Tracy's hip dislocation?

Robert Latimer described the surgery as mutilation. Mrs. Latimer said it would not cure her disability.

CCD Awaits Court Decision

In November, 1994 a Saskatchewan Court convicted Robert Latimer of murdering his daughter Tracy Latimer. The Council of Canadians with Disabilities hopes that the Supreme Court of Canada will uphold that conviction, although CCD realizes that the Court may order a new trial.

Representatives of the disability rights movement will be present at the Supreme Court on 6 February 1997 to meet with members of the media and offer comment about the case. The Council of Canadians with Disabilities will be represented by Irene Feika, a past Chairperson (613-241-1000).

Peter Park and Vici Clark, representing People First, will also be present at the Supreme Court. People First is an advocacy organization of people who have been labeled mentally handicapped. Local consumers from the Ottawa area are also rallying at the Supreme Court for the release of the decision. (To contact Peter Park and Vici Clark about the Latimer Case, call 613-238-6000.)

CCD Speaks Out on Media Portrayal

CCD is advocating that the media treat the murder of people with disabilities in a responsible manner. A hallmark of good reporting is to reveal all sides of a story. In a story involving the death of a person with a disability, the voice of people with disabilities needs to be heard to counterbalance ableist prejudices which predominate in our society. Fair reporting on the Supreme Court decision in the Latimer case, must include the perspective of people with disabilities, along with those of people representing other perspectives.

Media stories reporting on the atrocities of the Ku Klux Klan go beyond the Klan and their supporters for comment. The Klan's targets are sought out for their perspective. Any other type of reporting would not make it past a reputable editor's desk.

Balanced reporting has not always appeared in cases where people with disabilities have been murdered by nondisabled people. Shelley Page writing in the Ottawa Citizen explains that, "Latimer was viewed sympathetically, while his daughter Tracy was portrayed as nothing more than a wounded animal ready to put down."

The media messages that bombard the public daily help to reinforce their attitudes. The past portrayal of disability in the Latimer, and other cases, has served to further devalue people with disabilities and this has had negative consequences for individuals. "Robert Latimer killed Tracy when the publicity about Sue Rodriguez was at its peak and the Cathy Wilkieson murdered Ryan when publicity in the Latimer case was at its peak," said Gregor Wolbring at the Canadian Association of Community Living's National Conference.

As the Supreme Court decision comes down in the Latimer case, the media treatment will be cueing Canadians as to how they should be relating to people with disabilities. In 1994, Teresa Rojas told Macleans that if it were not for the existing Criminal Code she would murder her daughter Tania. Like Tracy, Tania has cerebral palsy. (Macleans 28 November 1994)

CCD abhors the deliberate taking of a disabled person's life and holds that such actions are properly defined as murder in the Criminal Code of Canada and must be treated in the same manner as any other murder.

To help promote the fundamental human rights of persons with disabilities, contribute to the Tracy Fund. (CCD, 926-294 Portage Ave., Winnipeg MB, R3C 0B9.)