Maahwish MohammadFlemingCLU 3M1-01?December 17th, 2017 R. v. Latimer: Murder The Facts Details of the Crime Tracy had asevere form of cerebral palsy that caused her to suffer five to six seizuresdaily and cause her great pain (Blair 289). On October 12, 1993, Saskatchewanfarmer Robert Latimer and his wife Laura Latimer were told that further surgerywas needed, and that Tracy’s right hip joint and part of the femur would beremoved. Even if the surgery went well, she was likely going to need surgery onher left hip and have a feeding tube put into her stomach.
The post-surgerypain would’ve been very intense (Butts). On October 24, 1993, Latimer killedhis severely disabled 12-year-old daughter Tracy (Blair 289). He put Tracy inthe back of his truck and ran a hose from the tailpipe to the back, and turnedon the motor (Butts). Tracy died from carbon monoxide poisoning (Blair 289). Atfirst, Laura had no knowledge of Robert’s actions. When she returned home fromchurch with their other three children and found Tracy dead in her bed, sheassumed she died in her sleep. An autopsy had revealed that it was a carbonmonoxide poisoning. Latimer had confessed when the police confronted him withthe evidence and was taken into custody.
He insisted that he didn’t commit acriminal act, and was just trying to do the right thing (Butts). Charges On November 16, 1994,Latimer was convicted of second-degree murder. That conviction was appealedbecause the prosecutor had interfered with the jury selection process. Hissecond trial started on October 22, 1997, where he was again convicted ofsecond-degree murder (Butts). The judge explained to the jury thatsecond-degree murder results in a mandatory jail sentence of 10 years, but jurymembers recommended that he only serve one year before parole eligibility. Thejudge sentenced him to one year of imprisonment and one year on probation, tobe spent at his farm (Blair 289). However, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal andthe Supreme Court decided to bring back the original sentence.
In January 2001,Latimer was imprisoned in the William Head facility. He had requested for dayparole in 2007 but it was denied, and then granted in 2008. In December 2010,he was released on full parole (Butts). The Issues Legal Question(s) Wouldinitiating the mandatory minimum sentence for second-degree murder beconsidered a cruel and unusual punishment, opposing to s.
12 of the Charter thatstates, “everyone has the right not to be subjectedto any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment”? (Blair 289) Was the defence of necessity available to the accused? (R v Latimer)Defences AvailableThe defences that couldhave logically been used by the accused are necessity and mistake of law. Necessitycould be used because the accused felt that he had no reasonable alternative tocommitting the crime. The accused must show that this act was done to avoid agreater harm, the suffering of his daughter. Mistake of law could have beenused as a defence because the accused didn’t feel that his actions would beconsidered as a criminal act. He just felt that he was doing the right thingand ending his daughter’s suffering by ending her life, also known aseuthanasia.
The reason mistake of law would not have been applicable is becausean accused person may not claim his or her own mistake of law as a defence forcommitting a criminal act. It is simply ignorance of the law. Latimer actuallyput the defence of necessity forward in court, because it seemed to make themost sense. Sentencing OptionsThe sentencing option that isavailable for second-degree murder according to the Criminal Code is a ten-yearminimum term of imprisonment (Blair 288).
S. 745 (c) of the Criminal Codestates that “in respect of a person who has been convicted of second-degreemurder, that the person be sentenced to imprisonment for life withouteligibility for parole until the person has served at least ten years of thesentence.” The reason this would be an option is because second-degree murder isa very serious crime that affects the life of the victim very much and also thelives of the people around the victim, such as their friends and family.
Aharsh sentence should be carried out for second-degree murder because someone’slife can never be brought back. The Decision The judgesentenced Latimer to one year of imprisonment and one year on probation, to bespent at his farm (Blair 289). However, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal andthe Supreme Court brought back the original sentence of 10 years (Butts). Accordingto the textbook, the trial judge wasn’t right when deciding that in thisspecific case, the mandatory minimum sentence for second-degree murder would becruel and unusual punishment (Blair 289). The Court decided that the minimummandatory sentence was not cruel in this specific case, and they also pointedout that it is up to the Parliament to decide on the use of minimum sentences,not the courts (Blair 289). Opinion In my opinion, Ibelieve that the Supreme Court’s decision of having the original sentence of 10years was right.
Even though Latimer was just trying to end his daughter’ssuffering and do the right thing, he shouldn’t have ended her life. There couldhave been many other options to lessen her pain or to reduce the number ofseizures she suffered. Her parents were even told that the surgery to repairher dislocated hip would cause pain, but further surgery would relieve thispain (Blair 289).
Latimer still murdered someone, and murdering someone isalways an indictable offence. It doesn’t matter if the victim is healthy ordisabled. A disabled person has the same right to life as any other humanbeing. WorksCited Blair, Annice et al.
Law in Action: Understanding CanadianLaw. Toronto: Pearson Education Canada, 2003. Retrieved November 2 2017. Butts, Edward. “Robert Latimer Case.” The CanadianEncyclopedia, 9 Sept. 2016, www.
thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/robert-latimer-case/.Retrieved November 8 2017. “R v Latimer.” CanLII Connects, 1 Dec.
2014, canliiconnects.org/en/summaries/34762.Retrieved November 16 2017. “R v Latimer.
“Casebrief.me, casebrief.me/casebriefs/r-v-latimer/. Retrieved November 162017.