On May 31st 1995, jurors at the Paul Bernardo murder trial began watching video taped evidence that showed the horrific sexual assaults on 14 year old Leslie Mahaffy and 15 year old Kristen French. An earlier ruling by the judge meant that the public and the media in court were only allowed to listen to the videos. I was in court while the videos played and sat just a few rows ahead of Leslie’s mother who broke down when she heard Bernardo viciously assaulting her daughter moments before the crown says he killed her.
Kristen family chose to stay away while the tapes showing their daughter were played in court. The final videotaped segment of Kristen was recorded about an hour before the Crown says she was strangled by Bernardo. During the final seconds a defiant Kristen is heard saying to Bernardo – I don’t know how your wife can stand to be around you.
The Crown did not have the videotaped evidence when it cut a deal with Homolka. The police had been unable to find the tapes in Bernardo’s house after his arrest. The tapes were eventually secretly retrieved by Bernardo’s original lawyer Ken Murray. Murray held on to them for 17 months before handing them over. If the crown had the tapes earlier it would not never have made the plea agreement with Homolka. Murray was charged with obstructing justice but found not guilty after a trial.