Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Paul Bernardo & Karla Homolka

"Deal with the Devil"

Long after the trial, one of Canada's most controversial and notorious criminal cases continued to dominate the news. One of the main stories concerning the case, the prosecution's 1993 deal with Karla Homolka — a 12-year prison sentence in exchange for cooperation for testifying against her husband Paul Bernardo, who was convicted of murder — has been called a "deal with the devil," and stirred up much indignation and public anger.

Leslie Mahaffy
Leslie Mahaffy

As the years in prison dragged on, the hostile relationship between Paul and Karla intensified each accusing the other of murdering Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French.

As Paul Bernardo prepared for his appeal in 2000, Karla made plans for her pending parole in 2001. Her lawyers spent much of the intervening time trying to get approval for visits to a half-way house but their appeals were denied.

Kristen French
Kristen French

From the time Karla Homolka came under public scrutiny for her crimes, journalists have taken a very dim view of her, implying that she is no more than a clever manipulator. National Post columnist Christie Blatchford expressed the sentiments of many Canadians about Karla when she wrote: "In the unremittingly bleak and featureless prairie that is her mind, she has always been a special little girl, and so, apparently, there does she remain. I remember her licking her lips for the camera, during one of the rapes. I remember how once — this while Leslie was being attacked in another part of the house — Homolka sat upstairs in her bedroom, reading and then drifted off to sleep. It was not that her conscience was clear, it was that she never had one."

As 1999 drew to a close, producers of the television show Law and Order made plans for an episode based on the Homolka-Bernardo case. Bernardo's lawyers expressed concerns that the television episode would jeopardize their client's appeal, even though public opinion about Bernardo was as bad as it was ever going to get.