Liveblog: Col. Russell Williams hearing, day 4

WARNING: Contains graphic testimony that readers may find disturbing.


 

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

[10:51 AM]
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.

[10:37 AM]
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.”

[10:32 AM]
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.”

[10:27 AM]
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.”

[10:18 AM]
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.

[10:14 AM]
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.

[10:03 AM]
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.”

[10:00 AM]
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.

[9:59 AM]
A mic has been put in the prisoner’s box.

[9:53 AM]
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.

[9:21 AM]
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.


 

Liveblog: Col. Russell Williams hearing, day 4

  1. I remember a movie from 1980 called "Dressed to Kill". It reminds me of the double life we are seeing here .. and the cross dressing .. gender issues.

  2. Edelson said: “The act of pleading guilty is a rarity.” – did he ever ask himself, as some of us obviously do, whether Russell Williams would have pleaded guilty if he did not know full well that the police would get hold of his explicit photos and videos? He must be kidding himself to believe for one minute that Williams is ‘doing it for the good of the people’! Worrying all the time only for his wife’s house and what she might feel as police might damage it as opposed to what she might feel if she knew he raped and murdered women? And Williams’ tears and comments at the end, Edelson obviously told him what to do (this is what senior council do for their clients) and how to act to create a sense of ‘regret’!

  3. It is rare and, dare I say, commendable that Williams confessed and cooperated to the extent that he did. The front page pictures of his agonizing private life were unnecessary and deliberately humiliating…it's difficult not to pity him in some way.

    This is a tragedy and a loss of not only two lives, but the utter waste of another. A sad day in Canadian history.

    • This man deserves to be exposed. END of story.

      • …it didn't "Expose" him…it fed those with morbid curiosity. Period.

        • ‘commendable that Williams confessed and cooperated to the extent that he did’ – with all due respect, you truly are giving Williams far, far more credit that he is due for! His criminal mind just does not operate the way your humane, philanthropic one seems to do.

  4. "He contrasts Jessica Lloyd thinking of her love for her mother while Williams raped, tortured and killed her."

    The judge gave the game away with criticism of the Crown's "shock and awe presentation to the court" – he knows full well that media coverage of the unimaninable suffering of the women Williams tortured to death will cause us all to lose faith in the legal system.

    And he blames the Crown! How dare he? Instead of letting the truth stand, he tries to rewrite history: "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.'"

    Words fail me – my faith has failed me. Of course Williams confessed; he knew about the evidence he'd gathered against himself. He also had an interest in avoiding a military prison, and presumably reached a deal.

    Where is the deterrent? For that matter, where is the sincerity? He cries crocodile tears for himself on the way to prison. They all do.

  5. Michael W….You so eloquently put into words my thoughts when my own words failed me. My heart is heavy for the victims and families left to pick up the pieces of their lives. May russell williams forever burn in hell.

  6. If any Crown Prosecutors or criminal defense attorneys are here, can you explain to me how the Canadian justice system decides when sentences for crimes are served concurrently or consecutively? I'm an attorney in the US, although I don't do criminal law. It is my understanding that here, sentences can be ordered served consecutively if the crimes are distinct from one another, that is, occurred at different times or we not part of a connected scheme. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that in the US, this guy could have received consecutive sentences.

    I'd appreciate hearing from a Canadian attorney who can help me understand if the court had the discretion to impose consecutive sentencces.

  7. l really think they should put, that scumbag, in general population, and let the other inmates, have a go at him.