Judge him according to your law

Oh boy. What to do with the case of Tomas Gallo, the 28 year old Houstonian sentenced to death for biting, raping and fatally beating his girlfriend’s daughter on her third birthday.

After reading this story it took me about a minute to drag my jaw off the floor. My 6-year-old daughter caught me drifting off into space,

“Daddy, what’s wrong?”

What’s wrong? Everything. This is a crime so grotesque it makes you laugh in disbelief. I was giggling with fear and revulsion. Then of course I immediately felt guilty for laughing.

You can’t win. This one’s beyond comprehension.

By the way, I wasn’t the only one laughing. Gallo laughed at the jury and the victim’s father as his sentence was read.

I could throw-up.

Oh it gets weirder. This is like bad vaudeville. Defence attorney, Gerald Bourque compared his client to Jesus Christ. Bourque exclaimed,

“Y’all made a mistake. I brought you the truth, and you ignored it,”

Gallo covered the three year old’s body with bruises and bite marks before raping and killing her at her while her mother was at work. He then cleaned up a blood-spattered bathroom, dressed her in clean clothes and called her mother to say the girl was not breathing.

Bourque’s truth?

He tried to argue that the girl’s mother was responsible for the crime.

Completing the biblical metaphor, Bourque stated,

“The blood is on my hands, too… and I can no more wash it off than Pontius Pilate.”

In light of Mel Gibson’s recent revisionist take on the Roman governor, perhaps Bourque was shooting for sympathy.

Yuck.

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Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Recently, I’ve been involved in a little side project to determine safety measures implemented at Canadian universities. In part this was started when I discovered that no agency in Canada tracks information on how the many different colleges in Canada provide safety to students on campus. Last month a Campus Security Survey was sent out to women’s centers, security units, student newspapers and sexual harassment advisors at 35 of Canada’s most prominent universities. The response to date has been deafeningly silent.

Yes, yes, there some surveys came back, but mostly from schools that already have an established reputation for providing excellent security service. The University of British Columbia was one of the first to respond, and I would think they would be given that the school has an RCMP detachment maning their victim services unit on campus – the only one of its kind in Canada. The University of Calgary sent in their survey- why shouldn’t they? U of C has a security alert protocol program, security cameras in secluded locations such as parking lots and a 24-hr-a-day safewalk service; they are often cited as a model for campus safety.

There isn’t anything particularly objectionable in the survey. Most of the questions are pretty boiler plate, “where might we obtain a copy of your sexual harassment policy?”, “Does the school have a women’s centre?”.

So it’s the schools that don’t respond that give cause for worry. Or the ones that give poor excuses for not answering the questions:

I’ve passed this on to our security department. There are concerns about what

this information is being collected for, who will have access to it, whether

or not it is being collected so solicit business, etc.

Yeah, well, even if I was in the business of selling a better security camera, this concern is irrelevant. It’s public information; universities don’t have the right to withhold it.

Some of the replies have been down right scary. Witness the following answer from a student volunteer at a women’s centre located at a major western university:

I’m just answering this one question because I’m really mad about what

happened:

6. Does the school have a notification protocol? That is, if an assault occurs

on campus, does notification go out to the campus community in a timely fashion?

NO!! I had to find out on the news AFTER THEY CAUGHT HIM that a student had Raped SEVERAL WOMEN right on campus, and I’m disgusted by the fact that campus security didn’t believe this to be something every woman on campus should have been warned about.

This seems to pinpoint the crux of the problem. In essence, there always seem to be two depictions of violence on campus; the impressions of the students versus that of administration, and the security forces that act on their behalf. Students often see violence on campus as being a much greater problem than do campus security. In part, this can be attributed to the problem that, in some cases, students don’t wish to file official reports with campus security. They will tell their friends, but are reluctant to “officially” disclose the information. So these “stories” become innuendo and hearsay, compared with the hard-line facts provided to security units.

Some campuses, such as the University of British Columbia, have began to explore the option of 3rd party reporting. That is, involving an outside agency to compile the information, rather than student run centres or administration run security services, both of which have a perceived bias.

Meanwhile the work of collecting information on campus security goes on. It is my desire that if enough Universities participate, there can be an apples-to-apples comparison of all universities and their safety programs. Only then might suggestions be made for a best practices system for security at all Canadian university campuses.

Stay tuned.

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Sophie Landry / Guy Croteau

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2004

Sophie Landry

This site experienced a surge of visits yesterday. Checking my Site Meter, I found out why. In the wake of Guy Croteau’s murder conviction, people were looking for more information on the case. But they weren’t coming here for me, they weren’t searching for Croteau. The words people kept Googling over and over were “Sophie Landry”.

We’ve been accustomed to thinking that the offender holds all the interest and fascination. It is heartening, in this instance at least, that people want to learn more about the victim. I can’t tell you anything about Sophie Landry. I didn’t know her. But it’s nice to know people are still thinking about her, that they care about her.

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MONDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2004

Croteau Attempts Suicide

the judge said five to ten
but I say double that again…

Moments after being convicted of the murder of Sophie Landry, Guy Croteau tries to slit his wrists in front of crowded courtroom.

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UPDATE:

Croteau gets 25 year life sentence with no chance of parole.

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Guy The Knife Could Walk

In a move I can only describe as, well… stupid… jurors in the Guy Croteau murder trial have asked to review the tapes of the closing arguments for each lawyer.

Recall that Croteau (irony of ironies: did I mention that “croteau” means “cut” in French) is charged with the 1987 death of 16-year-old Sophie Landry who was stabbed 173 times.

Hey jury! Let me make it easy for you…

SHE WAS STABBED 173 TIMES!!!!

So what could be holding up the jury? That’s easy: utter confusion courtesy of the Judge. It turns out that – thanks to Superior Court Justice James Brunton – jurors are unaware that Croteau is awaiting trial on multiple charges of sexual assault, forcible confinement and robbery involving 10 other females age 10 to 18. 

Brunton deemed this information prejudicial to the defendant.

Oy vey! With judges like this, who needs criminals!

Also, Justice Brunton disallowed testimony from profiler, Marc Lepine (No, not that Marc Lepine, in another irony, the Surete profiler shares the name of one of Quebec’s most prolific murderers).

So what does the jury have to go on? Not much. That a girl was found stabbed to death with the defendant’s sperm inside her. Defending attorney, Marc Labelle, has argued that Croteau might have raped her, but it doesn’t mean he killed her. This might make sense except for the fact that in the matter of the other assaults:

– All of the victims were teenagers.

– All of the victims were assaulted on the South Shore of Montreal

– They were all found in isolated areas

– A knife was used in each incident.

Also, Croteau’s m.o. is well established: he works alone; his pick-up line is usually of the, “hey, kid, can you help me find my lost puppy?” ilk. If Croteau raped Landry, then he most likely killed her too; there wouldn’t have been a buddy around to blame.

Despite these points, Justice Brunton ruled there was not enough proof of a connection between the Landry murder and the sexual assaults.

Justice Brunton: that’s French for knucklehead.

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Sophie Landry

This site experienced a surge of visits yesterday. Checking my Site Meter, I found out why. In the wake of Guy Croteau’s murder conviction, people were looking for more information on the case. But they weren’t coming here for me, they weren’t searching for Croteau. The words people kept Googling over and over were “Sophie Landry”.

We’ve been accustomed to thinking that the offender holds all the interest and fascination. It is heartening, in this instance at least, that people want to learn more about the victim. I can’t tell you anything about Sophie Landry. I didn’t know her. But it’s nice to know people are still thinking about her, that they care about her.

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Guy The Knife Could Walk

In a move I can only describe as, well… stupidjurors in the Guy Croteau murder trial have asked to review the tapes of the closing arguments for each lawyer.

Recall that Croteau (irony of ironies: did I mention that “croteau” means “cut” in French) is charged with the 1987 death of 16-year-old Sophie Landry who was stabbed 173 times.

Hey jury! Let me make it easy for you…

SHE WAS STABBED 173 TIMES!!!!

So what could be holding up the jury? That’s easy: utter confusion courtesy of the Judge. It turns out that – thanks to Superior Court Justice James Brunton – jurors are unaware that Croteau is awaiting trial on multiple charges of sexual assault, forcible confinement and robbery involving 10 other females age 10 to 18.

Brunton deemed this information prejudicial to the defendant.

Oy vey! With judges like this, who needs criminals!

Also, Justice Brunton disallowed testimony from profiler, Marc Lepine (No, not that Marc Lepine, in another irony, the Surete profiler shares the name of one of Quebec’s most prolific murderers).

So what does the jury have to go on? Not much. That a girl was found stabbed to death with the defendant’s sperm inside her. Defending attorney, Marc Labelle, has argued that Croteau might have raped her, but it doesn’t mean he killed her. This might make sense except for the fact that in the matter of the other assaults:

– All of the victims were teenagers.

– All of the victims were assaulted on the South Shore of Montreal

– They were all found in isolated areas

– A knife was used in each incident.

Also, Croteau’s m.o. is well established: he works alone; his pick-up line is usually of the, “hey, kid, can you help me find my lost puppy?” ilk. If Croteau raped Landry, then he most likely killed her too; there wouldn’t have been a buddy around to blame.

Despite these points, Justice Brunton ruled there was not enough proof of a connection between the Landry murder and the sexual assaults.

Justice Brunton: that’s French for knucklehead.

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A REAL LIVE VICTIM

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Conrad Brossard; a repeat offender on the joyride of Canada’s revolving door parole system (for a recap, click here .) Brossard had been convicted of numerous crimes and multiple murders. Each time he was sent away – for what the public considered was certainly the last time – Brossard would manage to be paroled again, and would kill again.

Brossard’s violence is lethal; there has only been one survivor to his attacks, a 22-year-old Montreal man who was highjacked at gunpoint by Brossard, shot in the liver and stabbed 17 times in the back. The victim managed to survive by pretending to be dead (and what else would you do after being stabbed 17 times?)

Victims often remain faceless and nameless. Frequently their stories go untold, it is the offender that garners most of the attention. In the very rare instance that a victim survives a murder they are usually very reluctant to come forward and tell their stories.

So imagine my surprize last week when I received the following message on my voicemail:

“Mr. Allore, my name is Marc Lapierre, I am the only surviving victim of Conrad Brossard, who you wrote about, I would very much like to talk to you.”

In so many ways, Marc Lapierre is a remarkable man. For twenty-four years he has watched Conrad Brossard dance in and out of prison, continuing to destroy people’s lives.

“I can’t understand how . . . Conrad Brossard can be constantly let out on parole… In 25 years, he will be out again, Brossard will be eighty and I will be in my sixties, I don’t want to be going out for coffee with this guy.”

Before the attack, Lapierre had a promising career in banking. After the attack Lapierre was never been able to work again. For twenty-four years he has had nightmares. Everytime he tries to leave the past behind (Lapierre no longer lives in Quebec), up pops Brossard again, newly sprung from prison, committing another murderous offence, in effect rubbing Lapierre’s nose in the horror of his past – now for ever his present and future. As Lapierre so aptly puts it, “Life Sentence – it’s the victims that receive it.”

Marc Lapierre has constructed a website to document his tragedy. On it he describes in excruciating and minute detail the events of his attack. Though much of the site is in French, Lapierre courageously has posted photos of the wounds on his body that speak a universal language.

The following link will take you to these photos. WARNING: THESE PICTURES ARE NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH. Lapierre has had himself photographed from the waist up showing the multiple attack wounds on his back and sides. The sight is a sobering reminder of the everlasting devastation wrought by violence.

I ask you to view these photos because this is what violence looks like. Not the tarted up version we see on television, but the real horror of violence. And so, to see Marc Lapierre’s photographs:

click here

The sight is profound. They leave me speechless.

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