Tracy Latimer was a 12 year old girl with cerebral palsy. She went to school, seemed to enjoy it based on comments from her teachers, and most people considered her to be a happy child. She was known to laugh a lot, and she had many friends.
But her father saw things differently. Robert Latimer decided one day to take Tracy for a ride in his truck and then leave her with the car running and a cloth stuffed into the tailpipe. Tracy died.
Robert Latimer tried claiming it was a mercy killing - a compassionate homicide. He claimed that his daughter suffered greatly, and that he did not want her to suffer anymore. No one else ever said that saw that suffering though.
Robert Latimer was arrested and tried for and convicted of second degree murder. After a lengthy legal appeal, all the way to the Canadian Supreme Court, Mr. Latimer received a sentence of life in prison with no parole for at least 10 years.
Mr. Latimer has served 7 years and last week, tried to get parole - day leave so he could go to work. The parole board refused to grant his request – thankfully. The 3 board members at William Head Institution, a minimum security facility on Vancouver Island said they were left with the feeling Robert “Latimer has not developed sufficient insight and understanding of his actions.” The board recommended that Mr. Latimer participate in some counseling and he won’t have another chance to apply for day parole for two years.
Yesterday, Brooke and her mother came to my house for a Holiday party. Like Tracy, Brooke has cerebral palsy. She is also deafblind, tube fed, and has a trach. The one thing Brooke has that Tracy did not is a parent who loves her and respects her.
Brooke’s life, though different than some children her age, is full and rich. Like Tracy, Brooke is happy and laughs a lot – big belly laughs that make everyone around her laugh also. She has friends, goes to school, and has a crush on the host of Blues Clues. She is a vibrant and engaging little girl who has made this world a brighter place. Tracy, unfortunately did not have that chance.
If only the parole board could add years to a person’s sentence, not just reduce a sentence….