The graying of America’s prison population : Hey! Let’s blame the Boomers!
Official – Bernier Trial will move to Montreal
This morning’s Montreal Gazette confirms that Hugo Bernier will be tried in a Montreal court.
Hugo Bernier Trial Delayed – Again
There is word in from Quebec that the judge trying the Hugo Bernier case has decided to move the trial from Sherbrooke to Montreal. Bernier was arrested in September 2002 for the murder of Julie Boisvenu. The twenty-seven-year-old’s body was found in a ditch near Bromptonville, six days after she disappeared after leaving a nightclub in downtown Sherbrooke. Bernier was another of those repeat offenders who – surprise, surprise – was mistakenly granted early parole.
The case was originally scheduled to go to trial last fall, but was delayed until the spring of 2004. This current decision will further delay the proceedings for an additional six to eight months.
Julie Boisvenu’s father, Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu – a man a greatly admire and consider to be a close ally – is expected to call a news conference next week protesting the delay of justice and calling for greater appreciation for victims’ rights.
A momentary diversion courtesy of the blog Quebecois
Because I love Halloween, and because it’s sort of a lazy Saturday; here’s a bit of fun to get through the morning.
Don’t Kill Me!
Seems there was a big Hells Angels bust in Montreal. You’ll notice I don’t write much about the Quebec biker wars. There are two reasons for this:
(thanks to Colby Cosh for the the hitherto unfamiliar “li” tag)
and i found a place it’s dark and it’s rotted
I don’t know which is more pathetic; this story, or the fact that I still read the Gazette.
Where’s Joe Pesci with that veal knife when you need him.
The man – apparently drunk and stinking of urine – was wrapped in plastic and driven home in the trunk. The officer didn’t want to anger his boss by stinking up the inside of the patrol car.
Sounds like a creative solution for me. I don’t see the problem. Oh right, the guy could have died. Forgot about that.
– … How do you think her body got in the cornfield?
– Who? Sophie Landry?
– No, my sister.
– You’re asking my opinion?
– For me, she was killed in the car, someone stopped by the side of the road, and they carried the body into the field. Do you agree?
– Yes. I think she was dragged there. For a while I thought someone drove into the field then dumped the body, but now I think they carried the body there. But it’s problematic… that’s a long way to drag a dead body.
– Yes, but someone who is determined could do it…
This is me on my cell phone talking to a police detective in Montreal. It’s mid-afternoon, and I’m standing in line at the post office waiting to mail a package. It’s one of those old post offices. Sound reverberates like Notre Dame Cathedral on a weekday. People are starring. I don’t care. After two years of investigating Theresa’s death I’ve dispensed with any sense of decorum…
This is the only time today I have a chance to talk to this guy, I’m gonna talk about whatever I like. I’m sorry, am I disrupting you while you mail a letter to your sister? I don’t care, my sister’s dead.
And, yes, I do relish in the drama of it all. It’s absurd and addictive and I’m getting my jollies.
I’m beginning to question the pace I’ve set for my life. With the birth of our third daughter our lives (my wife and mine) have gone into hyper-drive. I friend of mine who also recently added a third child to his family explained it this way,
“The thought of cramming anything else into my day is an impossibility. At work I feel guilty. I feel for sure someone is going to call me out as a fraud. I’m hanging on by my fingernails, just barely able to focus on my work.”
Yes, that would describe it.
The other day someone marveled at my energy, “how do you do it?”, they asked. I lied. “Well, as long as I keep my family in focus, everything’s alright.” I think it was Dale Carnegie who said, “there’s always two answers to every question; the one you like to hear yourself give, and the truth.” The truth? I’m barely hanging on. If I take on one more project my wife gonna’ relocate me permanently to the couch.
I’m trying to put things together. If I let up for a moment, the whole machine atrophies. My hair is stuck together in matted clumps, it looks like a squirrel’s nest. I haven’t exercised since Christmas. The car’s in desperate need of an oil change.
I call my wife’s hairdresser – no more Supercuts, I ‘m getting something good. I’m forty, I’ve got to start looking like it. And get those teeth cleaned; they’re starting to seal themselves up. My last appointment is the one I should have made first. I really need to call my doctor.
Tuesday evening. Pancake Tuesday. I haven’t heard that in years. We used to always eat pancakes for dinner on Pancake Tuesday. I think it was one of the rare occasions when my father cooked.
I pick up my kids and we go home to make pancakes. They’re thrilled with the idea.
Pancakes for dinner? Dad, you’re a riot.
I let them make their own batch. The kitchen is a mess. There’s batter all over the counter. It’s the way it should be.
An interesting piece in yesterday’s Gazette about a Longueuil women who thinks guy Croteau might have raped her in 1977.
Yes, I know Big-Bad-Guy isn’t responsible for every sex crime in the ’70s and ’80s, but indulge me for a moment (my comments in italics):
Sexual attacker hands pedestrian a life sentence
Sunday, February 22, 2004
She says it was nearly 27 years ago, and so she’s had to trade off some details in the recollection of it.
For example, she can remember the colour of the building where she first saw him standing, looking at her, but she’s never been sure if he was wearing a checked lumberjack’s jacket or an army fatigue coat.
“A checked lumberjack’s jacket” matches the clothing worn by one of the suspects in the Manon Dube case.
Jeanette is 53 now, has a husband and works as a teacher and freelance writer, but most of what happened that autumn evening in 1977 remains crystal clear, the details as sharply defined as the shock in the man’s eyes when she turned around and defended herself.
1977: this would put Croteau at approximately 21 years of age. A young serial killer in the making?
“I was coming back from the Longueuil métro station to where I live,” she said. “I decided to walk rather than take the bus. It was about a 15-minute walk.”
It was also a walk that took her from the subway across an overpass that spans Taschereau Blvd. and, as she paced across the bridge in the twilight, Jeanette looked back and noticed what appeared to be the figure of a man standing by a blue glass building. She resumed walking and was about three-quarters across the overpass when she sensed “a very light touch … like a draft.”
“So I whipped around and this guy had his hand right up the back of my skirt. … I was just enraged to see him. I started showering abuse on him … and then bashing him. I had a very heavy purse and I swung at his head.
“After I yelled at him, the strangest thing is he looked as if he was going to cry. … He turned around and began to run. I began to chase him.”
She chased him?
“I don’t know. I was just so mad.”
A woman reported to me a similar encounter with a man on the streets of Sherbrooke, Quebec in 1980. The man confronted her, she challenged him, he looked like he might cry, then she chased him.
Jeanette says he looked like someone who had just walked out of the woods – a beard, fairly long hair. “But it was his eyes that stood out the most. He had the most spectacular eyes.”
Her assailant got away and Jeanette went home and filed a police report. She was visited by two officers who kept looking around her apartment, asked if she was single, if she lived alone, why she was walking alone at night. They left her feeling as if she was somehow responsible for the attack. It was the ’70s.
It was the ’70s? Oh come-on, James, do you think women are treated with any greater respect today?
The police said they’d come back with mug shots. They never did, Jeanette says.
This is an often described scenerio. I can’t tell you the number of women who have contacted me about sexual assaults from 1977 – 1980. In almost every case the police very quickly dismissed their cause
Jeanette put the incident behind her for eight years, even though she’d shake when she talked about it, until an 18-year-old girl was found raped and killed in a ditch that runs parallel to the overpass.
Nathalie Boucher’s body was found less than 300 metres from her Longueuil home. As of yesterday, her killing remained unsolved. “I always felt it was the same guy who did it,” Jeanette says. “That he decided to get it right this time.”
Nathalie Boucher is a new one on me. Yes, there are many people who could be responsible for her death. But one thing to keep in mind; Guy Croteau is the only “serial killer” I know of who to date is responsible for only one murder. He will serve a life sentence for the death of Sophie Landry: this is good. But who else did he kill? Remember, this is not stuff from my imagination; it is the Surete du Quebec who have publically labeled Croteau as a multiple murderer.
Ok, SQ, we’re waiting for the other murders. It was dumb luck that you were able to link Croteau to Landry. Now it’s time to go to work and solve some crimes.
And then, two years ago, she was in a coffee shop when she saw a newspaper front page covered with a series of photographs under a headline that read: “The Many Faces of a Serial Rapist.” It was story about Guy Croteau, a school janitor who had been arrested for a murder and a string of sexual assaults on the South Shore.
The police published the 10, startlingly different photos after Croteau, then 45, was charged with nine sexual assaults that occurred between 1995 and 2000 and the 1987 murder of a 16-year-old girl who had been raped and stabbed 173 times.
Jeanette recognized the eyes.
She called the Sûreté du Québec’s toll-free number and told them about the incident on the overpass. They took the information and never called back.
Oh boy! Like I’m not familiar with this story!
Jeanette, I called the same toll-free number, and guess what? They didn’t call me back either. For a police force relying on the public to solve crimes, they sure weren’t eager to put any effort into it. In short, it took embarrassing the SQ in the newspapers before they would even consider looking at my sister’s murder in relation to Croteau.
FYI: Croteau had ties to the Eastern Townships.
Now, at this point it has to be said that the greater Montreal area has more than enough murderers and rapists to go around, and the area around the Longueuil métro, the place where Nathalie Boucher was murdered, where Croteau’s 16-year-old victim was last seen alive, has known its share of crime scenes.
Ya, ya , ya… so this is an excuse not to look into these things?
Ask Jeanette what she’d do if the cops told her tomorrow that they knew for an absolute fact the man who tried to attack her wasn’t Guy Croteau and she pauses for the longest time.
They can’t say that. They don’t know that.
“It’s possible. … It’s possible I’ve talked myself into this.” But Jeanette feels that even if it wasn’t Croteau, “the guy who came up behind me (27 years ago) meant business.”
And that’s when you know that in the end, it really doesn’t matter who it was who stood by a blue glass building on an autumn night in 1977, whether he wore a checked jacket or a drab olive coat, whether he’s going to sit in a cell for the next quarter century or whether he’s still out there.
We tell ourselves that justice has been done, that a school janitor convicted for the rape and murder of a teenage girl in 1987 has been given a life sentence for his crime. Even if he’s convicted of anything else, society cannot do more to Guy Croteau than it already has.
So society should close the chapter on Croteau? Nathalie Boucher’s murder remains unsolved. The Surete du Quebec has stated publicly that Guy Croteau is a serial killer – though inexplicably they can only tab him for one murder.
Doesn’t the SQ have an obligation to society to determine what other murders Croteau committed? In doing that, we just might learn from past mistakes. And I don’t think it was women who made the mistake of walking where they shouldn’t late at night.
But everything – including justice – is relative. Because a 27-year-old woman one autumn night decided to do nothing more sinister than walk home from the métro, a 53-year-old woman still wonders a quarter of a century after the fact whether she defended herself against a murderer in the making.
And that, some might argue, is a life sentence in itself.
I will leave the last word to another victim, Marc Lapierre who so eloquently stated:
“Life Sentence – it’s the victims that receive it.”
The Cost of Death
TalkLeft has an interesting post about the economics of the death penalty vs. life in prison.