Bernardo Admits to Rapes and Killing; Judge Orders Him Jailed for Life
TORONTO (AP) _ One of Canada’s most sensational murder cases reached an emotional end Friday after Paul Bernardo, already convicted of the sex killings of two teen-agers, admitted he raped 14 other women and helped kill his 15-year-old sister-in-law.
As the rape victims and families of the slain girls looked on, Justice Patrick LeSage declared Bernardo a ``dangerous offender″ who is unlikely to be rehabilitated.
``You have no right ever to be released,″ LeSage said in a bluntly worded ruling.
As Bernardo was led from the courtroom, one of the rape victims shouted: ``Remember, Paul, we did this to you this time. We won the war.″
``Rot in hell,″ yelled another.
Bernardo, a 33-year-old former bookkeeper, was convicted Sept. 1 of murdering Leslie Mahaffy, 14, and Kristen French, 15, after abducting the girls and sexually abusing them as he and his ex-wife videotaped the acts.
Canadians were riveted by the trial, in which jurors watched the videotapes of the girls being raped and degraded. Courtroom spectators could hear, but not see, the tapes.
Bernardo’s ex-wife, Karla Homolka, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and is serving a 12-year prison term. She struck a sentencing deal before police learned of the gruesome videotapes. A petition drive urging a harsher sentence on her is underway.
Canada does not permit the death penalty. Bernardo was sentenced to the mandatory life prison term with no chance of parole for 25 years. Friday’s ruling makes his sentence indefinite, although there will be reviews every two years after he serves the first 25.
The ruling came after a court session in which Bernardo admitted he helped to kill Tammy Homolka, and raped 14 women from May 1987 to April 1991 near Toronto and St. Catharines, Ontario.
Karla Homolka helped Bernardo drug Tammy so he could have sex with her while she was unconscious; Tammy choked on her own vomit and died.
The confession came as a surprise. Bernardo said he wanted to admit guilt to the outstanding charges to lessen his victims’ pain; he cannot be convicted in that death because the charges had been stayed.
``By me accepting the consequences and saying, `I’m sorry,′ hopefully they can put this tragedy behind them,″ he said from the prisoner’s box.
After the hearing, Bernardo was sent to Kingston Penitentiary’s segregation unit. Even if his murder convictions are overturned on appeal, the dangerous offender designation means he’ll stay in prison for most _ if not all _ of his life.
LeSage said Bernardo would be treated in prison for psychological disorders. A psychiatrist testified he is a psychopath who suffers from sexual sadism and voyeurism.
``Psychopaths are much more likely to repeat sexual and violent offenses than non-psychopaths,″ said psychiatrist Stephen Hucker, adding, ``His conditions are irremediable.″
The families of the slain girls also testified Friday, pleading with the court never to let Bernardo be freed. Courtroom spectators wept.
Ryan Mahaffy, 11, burst into tears as he described life without his sister and called Bernardo a monster.
``Because you murdered my sister, you have changed my life in so many ways _ some of them too personal to talk about,″ Ryan said. ``Because of you I am an only child.″
Ryan’s mother, Debbie, joined him beside the witness box, holding the boy’s hand as he finished his statement.
Donna French, the mother of the other girl, criticized the ruling that allowed courtroom spectators to hear the audio portion of the videotape in which her daughter is shown being raped and beaten.
``No other decision to date has caused such intense suffering,″ she said. LeSage lowered his eyes.