One of the most “notorious women” in Canadian history is about to be released from prison sometime today. Along with her now ex husband Paul Bernardo Karla Homolka was arrested in connection with the rape murder of two young women. Although Mr. Bernardo will never see the outside of prison walls again(he was branded a dangerous offender which means he never has to be released)Ms. Holmolka received only a twelve years sentence through a plea bargain .
During the couples trial it became clear that although there was evidence to convict Mr. Bernardo on one of the crimes, it was not sufficient to see him put away indefinitely. The public outcry over the horrific nature of the crimes pressured the office of The Attorney General of Ontario to seek any means at their disposal to secure a dangerous offender conviction.
At the time the detectives investigating the crimes knew that there was a video recording in existence that Mr. Bernardo and Ms. Holmolka had made of themselves with the victims. As it was obviously not in his interest to reveal it’s whereabouts Mr. Bernardo was not about to tell where it was hidden.
Ms. Holmolka’s lawyers had already taken the approach in their defence that their client was as much a victim as the girls raped and murdered. She was portrayed as a innocent trapped in a nightmare world by an violent and dangerous man who would have killed her if she didn’t play along.
Therefore they were more then happy to be as accommodating as possible to the prosecutors, as long as there was something in it for them. Ms. Holmolka was given the opportunity to plead guilty to manslaughter which carries the maximum sentence of twelve years. She directed the police to a false ceiling in the bedroom she had shared with Mr. Bernardo.
The public outcry when the terms of her sentencing deal were announced, at least in the tabloid press, was nothing to the field day that followed the video’s first screening. The images from the video were interpreted by the press as showing Ms. Holmolka as a more then willing participant.
Aside from the usual baying for the return of the death penalty that seems to accompany almost any murder trial, the tabloids had the extra bone to chew on of Karla Holmolka getting off easy. Headlines called for the resignation of everyone from the chief of police who commanded the investigating force, the attorney general of Ontario, to the premier of the province. At the very least they demanded the plea bargain be destroyed. The response to the to the attorney general’s comment that it would be unethical to set that precedent, was who cares.