November 28th, 2012
Robert Latimer: Legal Case Study and Analysis
What happened in the criminal event?
On October 24th, 1993 in Wilkie, Saskatchewan, Robert Latimer killed his twelve-year-old daughter, Tracy. His daughter suffered from Cerebral Palsy and was apparently in a constant pain through her entire life. While the rest of Latimers family was at church, he put Tracy in his truck and attached a hose into it from the exhaust pipe. While being questioned by CBC news, he stated, “he loved his daughter and could not bear to watch her suffer from a severe form of cerebral palsy.” (CBC News, 2010) At first he was convicted with first-degree murder. As many people believed this was a mercy killing or an act of euthanasia, Latimer’s case became extremely controversial in Canada. Killing his daughter, in his own mind was an act of love. He truly believed that this was the right thing to do. On November 16th, 1994, he was convicted of second-degree murder. On November 27th, 1996, his case went to the Supreme Court of Canada. His second trial began on October 27th, 1997. During the second trial, he was again found guilty of second-degree murder. This trial went on for several years. On January 18th, 2001, The Supreme Court finally upheld his life sentence with no parole for ten years. After this very long trial, Latimer was granted full parole on November 29th, 2010.
What are the laws surrounding the crime in Canada?
The jury of this trial has a very difficult time depicting what crime was committed. If they thought this was a case of euthanasia, his conviction, and/or punishment would have been different than second-degree murder. According to the Criminal Code, murder is “when the person who causes the death of a human being means to cause his death, or means to cause him bodily harm that he knows is likely to cause his death, and is reckless whether death ensues or not.” (Canadian Criminal Code, C-46) Latimer really did deliberately and willingly kill his daughter. He has actually admitted that he meant to cause her death. This is a case of murder. Usually, this crime would lead to a life sentence in prison. Due to the rare circumstances of this case, the jury had made an exception and decided that after seven years of imprisonment, they would grant him parole.
How could the crime be explained?
Considering Robert Latimer claimed that he murdered his daughter in an act of love, there is not a theory to explain the crime. He is not considered a criminal because of how he was raised, not is he a criminal from any biological disorder. He simply committed this crime based on his understanding of what is right and what is wrong. I still feel as though labeling perspectives fits in with this case. Labeling perspectives argue that crime is a social process and it involves different perceptions of what constitutes good or bad behaviour (White et.al.. 2009) In Latimer’s case, it was difficult to judge whether his actions were good or bad behaviour based on his intentions. Based on labeling perspectives, “the measurement of crime is a process in which the particular actions of certain people are defined by those in power” (White et.al..2009) Latimer was
labeled as a murderer when he was convicted with second-degree murder. In his mind, he though he was doing the right thing but people who were in power still labeled him as a murderer. This made him appear as a monster to people across the country. According to labeling perspectives, people labeled as criminals are usually expected to act out due to this. This theory is a way of explaining why some criminals commit their crimes. If a person is labeled as a bad person