Paul Bernardo - Trial, Conviction, and Incarceration

Trial, Conviction, and Incarceration

Bernardo's trial for the murders of French and Mahaffy took place in 1995, and included detailed testimony from Homolka and videotapes of the rapes. The trial was subject to a publication ban which applied to Canadian newspapers and media, and the venue was moved to Toronto from St. Catharines, where the murders occurred. However, the ban did not affect American newspapers and television stations from nearby Buffalo, New York from reporting trial proceedings, which were easily seen in Southern Ontario. During the trial, Bernardo claimed the deaths were accidental, and later claimed that his wife was the actual killer. On September 1, 1995, Bernardo was convicted of a number of offences, including the two first-degree murders and two aggravated sexual assaults, and sentenced to life in prison without parole for at least 25 years.

In return for a plea bargain (12 years in prison for manslaughter), Homolka testified against Bernardo in his murder trial. This plea bargain received much public criticism from Canadians as Bernardo's first defence lawyer Ken Murray had withheld for 17 months videotapes that Bernardo made. This was considered crucial evidence, and prosecutors said that they would have never agreed to the plea bargain if they had seen the tapes. Murray was later charged with obstruction of justice, of which he was acquitted, and he also faced a disciplinary hearing from the Law Society of Upper Canada.

During her interrogation in 1993, Homolka told police Bernardo once bragged to her that he had raped as many as 30 women, double the 15 assaults police suspected he had committed. She described him as "the happy rapist."

Bernardo has been kept in the segregation unit at the penitentiary for his own safety, nonetheless he has been attacked and harassed. Once he was punched in the face by another inmate while returning from a shower in 1996. In June 1999, five convicts tried to storm the segregation range where Bernardo lived, and a riot squad had to use gas to disperse them.

The Toronto Star reported on February 21, 2006, that Bernardo had admitted having sexually assaulted at least 10 other women in attacks not previously blamed on him. The majority of those assaults took place in 1986, a year before what police termed the reign of terror by the Scarborough Rapist. Authorities suspected Bernardo was the culprit in other crimes, such as a string of rapes in Amherst, N.Y., and the drowning death of Terri Anderson in St. Catharines. He has never acknowledged his involvement. It was reported that Bernardo's lawyer, Anthony G. Bryant, had forwarded this information to legal authorities the previous November.

In 2006, Bernardo gave an interview in prison suggesting he had reformed and would make a good parole candidate. He was not eligible for release in 2010 under the "faint hope" clause, since he was convicted of multiple murders. Bernardo is not eligible to apply for parole until July 2020. Bernardo is currently serving his term in the maximum security prison at Kingston Penitentiary, in the segregation unit. He spends 23 hours a day in a 2.5-by-3-metre prison cell. On April 19, 2012, it was announced that the Kingston Penitentiary, as well as the Leclerc prison near Montreal would close.

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