October 05, 2005

Court Acquits Father Who Admitted Killing Son

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express

LONDON, ONTARIO--An Ontario judge has ruled that David Carmichael was not responsible for the death of his 11-year-old son, Ian, even though he admitted drugging him, then strangling him.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Helen Rady acquitted Carmichael, 47, of first-degree murder after hearing from experts that he was severely depressed at the time he decided to take his son's life.

Carmichael had confessed to killing Ian, who was described as "energetic" and "loving", because he believed that the boy's epileptic seizures would cause him to develop more severe disabilities and become violent. Carmichael told police he was saving his son from a "living hell" and his family from potential assaults by the child.

Carmichael killed his son on July 31, 2004 -- several months after Ian began taking medication that effectively controlled his seizures. An autopsy revealed that Ian had mild epilepsy, but no other disabilities or medical conditions at the time of his death.

Family members and friends called Carmichael a "devoted" father, who "doted" on his son.

Rady determined that Carmichael is not a threat to the community, but that he should be sent to a medium-security psychiatric hospital for treatment.

The case has been compared to those of other parents who killed a child because the child had a disability. In Canada, arguably the most well-known case of "altruistic filicide" is that of Robert Latimer, who in 1993 gassed to death his 12-year-old daughter, Tracy. Latimer is serving a mandatory 10 years of a life sentence after being convicted of 2nd degree murder in the crime.

"The tragedy in both cases is the terrible loss of a young life for no other reason than that a father believed he had the right to pass ultimate judgment on his child's quality of life," said Keith Powell, executive director of Community Living Ontario, in a statement Friday.

"We have to work harder to change this extremely dangerous and destructive perception that the quality of life of a person who has a disability is something that can be determined by others. Until this perception changes, the lives of people who have a disability will continue to be devalued and imperiled."

"Toronto father not criminally responsible in death of son" (CBC)

Posted on October 05, 2005