Guilty of family's murders

UPDATE: 3:40 p.m.

The public may be left with more questions than answers after Jacob Forman pleaded guilty Thursday to murdering his wife and two daughters in December 2017.

On the third day of a voir dire, or trial within a trial, to determine the admissibility of several key pieces of the Crown's evidence, Forman advised the court he would plead guilty to the second-degree murder of Clara Forman and the first-degree murders of eight-year-old Karina and seven-year-old Yesenia, rather than continue with a trial.

As the court clerk read out the three charges against him, Forman responded through tears and loud sobs: “guilty.”

Following the pleas, Forman's defence counsel Ramond Dieno told reporters Forman had made up his mind Thursday morning.

“It just took a long time for him to acknowledge and comprehend the legal ramifications of what he's done,” Dieno said. “What he didn't understand is planning and deliberation doesn't mean you sit down for a long time to plan and deliberate. It could be momentarily, it could be within a minute. He had a hard time understanding that concept.”

While Dieno wouldn't disclose what led to the killings, he said Forman had been a functional alcoholic for “a long period of time.”

“He was actually in a process of withdrawal (prior to the killings), because he was of the view that he was not helping his family by being so alcoholic ... He tried to withdraw without support or treatment and that obviously led to devastating consequences,” Dieno said.

“The defence was always going to be a mental state defence. Alcohol really played a devastating effect on this man's mind, according to him. Whether an expert would agree with that, we are in the process of getting that determined.”

Dieno said their expert's report actually factored into Forman wanting to plead guilty, but Dieno didn't elaborate on how.

Earlier this week, the court heard Forman had confessed to police eight days after he was arrested, but the defence was contesting the admissibility of the confession.

“After he was in custody for a while and thinking about things, he was of the view that he had a mental state defence, so he wanted to explore that, confirm that,” Dieno said. “It's all been a process of learning the law and learning what defences are available.

“He's had many, many emotional days. This is the one that culminated in him entering his pleas, but he's been extremely emotional for the vast majority of this past year.”

Forman will be back in court for sentencing on Sept. 16. First-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with no possibility of parole for 25 years. The Crown is seeking a sentence with no possibility of parole for 35 years, with the first and second-degree sentences served consecutively, while Dieno says he will be asking for the possibility of parole in 25 years.

“In B.C. there hasn't been a case where multiple murders have resulted in consecutive sentences. That's something that has occurred in a couple of other provinces, but the defence's view is that life is life,” Dieno said.

“This is a 35-year-old man that might be 60, might be 70, might be 80 when he's out in the street, with no friends, no family ... He's lost everything in his life.”

ORIGINAL: 2:35 p.m.

In a surprise move, Jacob Forman has pleaded guilty to all charges levied against him.

Forman issued the plea in a Kelowna courtroom Thursday afternoon during the third day of a voir dire to determine the admissibility of several pieces of evidence in the judge-alone trial.

He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of his wife Clara Forman, and two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his two daughters.

While answering to the charges during his arraignment Tuesday, Forman told the judge, “I am responsible, but I’m not guilty of what the crown is saying.”

He uttered the same statement as each of the three charges was read, but by Thursday, he had changed his tune.

Forman killed his wife and two young daughters at the family home on Bolotzky Court in December of 2017.

RCMP Const. Marshall Slarks testified Tuesday he and another officer went to the home on the evening of Dec. 19 to do a wellness check on Clara Forman, who had not shown up for work that day.

He testified another officer checked an exterior garage and, upon returning, informed Forman he was under arrest for murder.

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