WARNING: The following contains graphic testimony that readers may find disturbing.
For more on the first day of Russell Williams’s hearing go to: The dark, depraved side of Russell Williams revealed in court
Court is closed. Williams is handcuffed again, and led out of the courtroom. First he speaks to his lawyer again. He is escorted out, shackled.
Justice Robert Scott says that there is an expression often said, “Nothing surprise me anymore.” Of that adage, he says, “That has no meaning here.”
The judge suspects that long before his firs crime Williams had these thoughts.
“He will forever be remembered as sado-sexual serial killer. he lived a charmed life. … his double life fooled most people. He may be best described in the biographical sense as Canada’s bright shining lie. Russell Williams’s fall from grace has been swift and sure. his crimes have adversely affected this country and this community, all victims alike.”
Justice Scott says his sentencing is meant also to serve as a deterrent to others. He is also taking into account Williams’ statement to the court. “I found it to be sincere.”
“Although I would be less inclined to adopt the Crown’s shock and awe presentation to the court,” he says it demonstrated the escalation of crimes.
He asks Williams to please stand up. He does. The judge reads out the sentences:
Count 1, life imprisonment for the murder of Comeau
Count 2, life imprisonment for the murder of Lloyd, to be served concurrently
Counts 1-73, 75-78, 81-86, all property offences, 1 year on each count, to be served concurrently
Counts 73, 74, 79, 80, two sex assaults and confinement, 10 years on each count, to be served concurrently
Police will take Williams immediately to Kingston penitentiary.
The judge also imposes a lifetime weapons prohibition, sex offender registry for life, DNA data banking orders. He imposes the $8,800 victim fines, and orders the destruction of items seized.
He lets Willams sit down. He tell him that he is eligible for parole after 25 years, “but that’s no guarantee that you will be eligible at that time.”
Judge asks Williams if there is anything he wants to say.
Williams stands up, facing the judge, with his back to the majority of the people in the courtroom.
“Your honour,” he pauses. He puts his hand in pocket, then on the bar around the prisoner box. “I stand before you indescribably ashamed. I know that the crimes I hve committed,” he stops, crying, “have traumatized many people. The family and friends of Marie France Comeau and Jessica Lloyd in particular have suffered and continue to suffer profoundly desperate pain and sorrow as result of what I’ve done.” He is crying. “My assault of [the sexual assault victims] has caused them to suffer terribly as well. Numerous victims of the break and enters have been seriously distressed. My family has been irreparably harmed,” Williams says through tears. “The understandable hatred that was expressed yesterday and has been palpable throughout the week has me recognizing that most will not accept this: I very deeply regret what I have done. And the harm I’ve caused,” he stops, crying. “I’ve committed despicable crimes, your honour,” he pauses again, crying, “in the process, betraying my family, my friends and colleagues and the Canadian Forces.” He stops again to collect himself. “Excuse me,” Williams says, and then continues: “I shall spend the rest of my life knowing that I ended two vibrant, innocent and cherished lives. My very sincere hope is that my detailed confession on the night of Feb. 7, my full cooperation with investigators since, and ultimately my guilty pleas earlier this week have in some way served to temper the very, very serious harm I’ve caused my victims, their families and friends. Thank you.”
Edelson says there are many questions about why Williams committed these crimes. Why?
He says the standard of criminal responsibility was met by Williams.
Edelson hopes that Williams’ “guilty pleas my be viewed as an atonement. He cannot stand before this court and expect forgiveness. We can hope that his act of pleading guilty may in some way at some time help in the healing process.”
“It is unlikely that anyone affected with ever fully recover from his crimes.”
Edelson says he is not intending not to raise sympathy for his client. He will be in prison for the rest of his life, and will only be eligible after 25 years. He pleased guilty knowing that.
He says the defense would be remiss if it did not quell media speculation that Williams got special treatment.
Describing the “seismic” violations Williams carried out, Edelson says that his client “knows he stands at the epicenter of these shock waves. He is prepared to take responsibility for the damage he has caused.”
Williams’ lawyer Edelson stands to speak.
He says the defense takes no issue with the life sentences that will be imposed against Williams.
Edelson says that nothing can change the legal consequences since Williams has pled guilty. This puts the lawyers in a paradoxical position. They can’t do much to change the sentences, but says that the guilty pleas of Williams may serve to some degree as reparation.
It’s not the role of the defense to address the victim impact, says Edelson, but it does wish to acknowledge their suffering. “Their pain is incalculable and really beyond our comprehension.”
He says we live in society where the accused has the right to declare “I am not guilty.” He continues, “The act of pleading guilty is a rarity.” He says Williams’ exceedingly uncommon pleas to first-degree murder have allowed the justice process to proceed quickly and “lessen the turmoil” of a long case.
He points out that Williams did not have to tell the police about the break-ins, many of which had not even been reported by the victims. He also notes that Williams was fully cooperative in helping the police find evidence, even leading them to Lloyd’s body, and decoding his complex computer filing system containing the footage of his crimes.
Edelson says there is nothing the defense can say about Williams life that hasn’t already been reported.
Burgess is contrasting the brave fight Marie France Comeau put up against Williams as he raped, tortured and killed her. He contrasts Jessica Lloyd thinking of her love for her mother while Williams raped, tortured and killed her.
“Can there be any greater contrast between evil and good?”
He asks the judge to impose full sentences on all counts.
Claps take over the courtroom.
Crown Lee Burgess asks the judge to impose a lifetime weapons prohibition against Williams. He notes that Williams will be put on the sex offender registry, and in the DNA bank.
Burgess also asks that the $100 victim fine for every count against Williams not be waived. He said since Williams has assets and a pension, he should be required to pay the $8,800.
Next, he asks for anything Williams used in carrying out these crimes be destroyed: Clothing, sex toys, rope, zipties, duct and electrical tape, his cameras, hard drives, computer, tapes. He also asks that Williams’ Pathfinder be turned over to the Crown. The judge asks to what end, will it be sold? Burgess says, “I don’t know how much value is left. … It’s going to be crushed.”
“This year has been very difficult for this community. … We have been shocked and saddened. But that’s not what defines this region. We have come together in mutual support.”
Burgess describes the “monstrosities” that Williams inflicted on so may people, made more devastating because he held the rank of colonel, who was supposed to be—and was—seen as a leader. “He exploited that to divert suspicious. He laughed at us … as he lived the life of a serial killer by night.”
He points out that on the night Williams committed one sexual assault, he had earlier gone to drop the puck at the local hockey game. Williams carried the Olympic torch, and the community cheered him on.
Describing the trauma and violation suffered by the victims. The crimes lasted a few hours, Burgess said, but “the scars will last a lifetime.”
Williams is led into the courtroom. He stands in the prisoner’s box, his handcuffs removed by an officer. Like all he days before, his lawyer whispers in his left ear, he nods, and sits down. He resumes his hunched forward position, looking down. Then the judge enters, all rise.
A mic has been put in the prisoner’s box.
Lawyers are assembling in the courtroom. Word is that Williams’ attorney Michael Edelson will make remarks today for the first time since the hearing began on Monday.
Fourth day of the sentencing hearing for Russell Williams, the disgraced colonel who has pled guilty to dozens of break-ins, two sexual assaults, and two murders. Footage of the crimes, and of his confession has run out. Victim impact statements have been read through tears. Weariness is palpable. Word is today will be the last. Williams may make a statement. Court resumes at 10 AM.