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Supreme Court Asked To Hear Appeal On Bernardo Videotapes

June 1, 1995

TORONTO (AP) _ The families of victims in Paul Bernardo’s murder trial have asked Canada’s highest court to review a decision allowing the public to hear videos that prosecutors say show their daughters being raped.

The Supreme Court of Canada received a motion from Tim Danson, a lawyer for the families, requesting a hearing on a decision made Tuesday by Justice Patrick LeSage, an Ottawa clerk confirmed.

LeSage ruled that only the jury, lawyers and court officials could watch the nearly four hours of videotapes prosecutors say show four teenage girls being raped. He said showing them publicly could harm their families, but ruled that courtroom spectators and reporters should be allowed to listen to the key evidence.

In court on Thursday, relatives of victims Leslie Mahaffy, 14, and Kristen French, 15, walked out of the trial after LeSage warned that a tape about to be screened would be graphic. The courtroom hushed as the families headed for the door.

Bernardo is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of French and Mahaffy in the most gruesome murder trial in recent Canadian history. Prosecutors say he strangled the girls with an electrical cord after holding them captive and repeatedly assaulting them.

His wife, Karla Homolka, is serving a 12-year prison term for manslaughter in their deaths.

The first segment of the videotapes _ showing the rape of Tammy Homolka, Karla’s younger sister _ was screened Wednesday and replayed Thursday. In it, Bernardo could be heard issuing crude instructions to Karla Homolka, his fiancee at the time.

Prosecutors say the two drugged the 15-year-old Tammy so Bernardo could rape her. Tammy died later that night _ Dec. 24, 1990 _ after choking on her own vomit, prosecutors claim. Her death was ruled accidental at the time.

Bernardo faces no charges in connection with her death.

Another explicit video _ of Bernardo and Karla having sex some time after Tammy’s death _ was shown to the entire courtroom Thursday.

Prosecutors say other videos will depict Bernardo beating and raping Mahaffy and French, and show him sexually assaulting a woman known only as Jane Doe.

Prosecutors argue Bernardo forced Karla Homolka to take part in the sex slayings by beating her into submission for years and threatening to tell her family what really happened to her sister.

On Wednesday, prosecutor Ray Houlahan showed what he says were Bernardo’s tools in the kidnappings and killings: black electrical cords, a hunting knife, two pairs of handcuffs and a ball of twine.

The victims’ mothers cried quietly as Houlahan held the items up to jurors.

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