Forman jailed for 35 years

UPDATE: 5:44 p.m.

Jacob Forman has been sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole for 35 years.

Forman earlier this month pleaded guilty in a Kelowna courtroom to two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his daughters and to second-degree murder in the death of his wife. The charges automatically carried concurrent life sentences, but Justice Allen Betton ruled late today that Forman’s two periods of parole ineligibility will run consecutively. Minus an unannounced period of time already served, the 35-year-old Forman won’t get a chance at freedom until he’s nearly 70 years old.

It’s the first time a B.C. judge has issued back-to-back sentences of parole ineligibility.

Justice Betton said he could not view the three murders as one act because they occurred hours apart. Forman killed his wife, Clara, early on Dec. 17, 2017, and then murdered his children that night in their Bolotzky Court home after they had shovelled the driveway, gone to church and watched Netflix. Several people in the courtroom—comprised primarily of Clara’s friends and co-workers—wept openly as Justice Betton read the transcription of Forman telling investigators exactly how he killed Yesenia, 7, and Karina, 8.

“These were deliberate and horrific acts,” Betton said.

Forman appeared to be crying in the prisoner’s box as he sat listening to the judge describe the killings. He didn’t move when Justice Betton came down with his decision, and as was escorted out of the courtroom he smiled meekly and waved goodbye to his family.

The chilling details of the murders were read out earlier on Monday during the sentencing hearing as part of an agreed-upon statement of facts, and sobs could be heard throughout the courtroom as Crown attorney Murray Kaay argued for consecutive periods of parole ineligibility.

Monday’s sentencing hearing essentially determined whether Forman would get consecutive or concurrent parole ineligibility periods. Defence attorney Raymond Dieno, who was asking for parole eligibility in 25 years, said Forman’s alcohol problem and withdrawal he was experiencing at the time of the killings was a mitigating factor. Dieno argued that Forman shouldn’t be viewed as other Canadian multiple murderers like Clifford Olson and Bruce McArthur. The Multiple Murders Act became part of the Criminal Code in 2011.

Forman also considered suicide before being arrested and has shown remorse.

The Crown—and ultimately Justice Betton—felt otherwise, noting Forman not only had several hours to think about killing his daughters after murdering his wife, but he also lured his daughters to their bedroom under the pretext that they were going to play a game.

Forman didn’t say anything to the court when Betton gave him the opportunity following both lawyers’ arguments, but he did pipe up at the end of the morning session as the judge and Dieno determined when the defence attorney’s argument would be made.

“I’d rather have this done today,” Forman said, rising out of his seat and adding the mitigating circumstances that could help him had already been mentioned by Kaay.

No one was willing to speak to reporters following the sentencing, but former colleague Diane Carlson, who was part of a group wearing “This one’s for Clara” shirts, said earlier in the day they were there since her American family couldn’t be in attendance and because they wanted to be there to remember Clara and her girls.

“She was incredible,” Carlson said. “She was the most beautiful person you’d ever meet. She would be able to seek you out when you came to the gym and make you feel a part of the family, make you feel loved, just feel a part of the family there.

“It’s left a hole in all of our lives and in our hearts,” she said as tears welled in her eyes. “This is something that you go to every day, where you have people that come five to seven days a week, and you really get to know everybody and we’re like a family. It’s just left a hole that can’t be filled.

“Her and the girls were just so very, very special.”

UPDATE: 4:30 p.m.

Jacob Forman will serve 35 years in jail before parole eligibility for the murders of his wife and daughters.

Justice Allen Betton returned with his sentencing decision this afternoon.

Forman will serve the sentences consecutively rather than concurrently.

Legislation that allows for “stacked” murder sentences was introduced in Canada in 2011, and while several killers across Canada have been sentenced to multiple consecutive murder sentences, it's never occurred in B.C.

UPDATE: 3:10 p.m.

Sentencing arguments have concluded in the Jacob Forman case at Kelowna Law Courts, and Justice Allen Betton will return to Courtroom 1 at 3:30 p.m., when he will potentially announce the murderer’s fate.

Crown attorney Murray Kaay read from the agreed-upon statement of facts this morning, revealing the grisly details of the 2017 triple murder, while defence attorney Raymond Dieno countered for an hour this afternoon.

Forman didn’t speak when Betton asked if he wanted to say anything following his attorney’s arguments. Forman did speak up, however, at the conclusion of Kaay’s presentation before the lunch break. Betton said his decision might not come until Tuesday, which led to Forman rising from his seat in the prisoner’s box.

“I’d rather have this done today,” Forman said, adding the mitigating circumstances had already been heard from the Crown. Betton said he couldn’t make any promises.

The Crown wants Forman to receive consecutive sentences of 25 years for the first-degree murders of his daughters and 10 years for the second-degree killing of his wife. That means with time served, he would spend 35 more years behind bars before he would be eligible for parole.

The defence, meanwhile, is asking for concurrent sentences of 25 and 10 years, which would result in Forman spending 25 years in prison before going up for review.

“He’s going to need these years to gain that insight and heal from it, but he’s a person who at least the community around him believes he’s redeemable,” Dieno told the court. “He’s not a monster.”

ORIGINAL: 11:30 a.m.

Jacob Forman murdered his wife by hitting her in the head three times with a mini sledgehammer and then, after attending church with his two daughters, choked them to death later that evening.

Those were the tear-inducing agreed-upon facts that were revealed this morning at the sentencing hearing for Forman, who last week pleaded guilty to first- and second-degree murder charges stemming from the Dec. 17, 2017, killings in their Kelowna home.

Crown prosecutor Murray Kaay read the agreed-upon facts while Forman, dressed in a red jumpsuit, sat motionless in the prisoner’s box. Family members and friends of Clara Forman could be heard crying as the details were read.

The Crown is seeking consecutive sentences for the murders, resulting in no parole eligibility for Forman for 35 years. He pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder of his wife and two counts of first-degree murder of his daughters.

Forman, who said he had not been drinking that day or the day before the crimes, came home from a workout on the morning of Dec. 17, and he sensed tension coming from his wife, so he avoided her.

They eventually ended up in the master bedroom, where an argument ensued. Forman saw a mini-sledgehammer sitting on the floor in the closet, so he picked it up and struck her in the back of the head. She did not lose consciousness and screamed, asking her husband what he was doing. He struck her again and, seeing that her fingers were still twitching, hit her a third time. He then put his hands to her throat.

Forman left his wife’s body in the bedroom, he and his daughters went outside to shovel snow, and then they attended church. Forman told anyone who asked that his wife was at home because she wasn’t feeling well.

When they got home, Forman told his daughters to get their pajamas on, and they started watching Netflix. Shortly thereafter, he asked Yesenia if she wanted to come with him and play a game that he played when he was young. They went to the room that the girls shared, instructed her to stand on her head for a few minutes and then get on her feet while raising her arm. When she stood up, he choked her from behind, causing her to pass out immediately. He proceeded to choke her with his hands and then a toy until she was no longer breathing.

He took Yesenia’s body to the master bedroom and then did the same thing to Karina in the girls’ bedroom. Forman told police he killed his daughters because he said it was better for them “to go home to heaven than to grow up in a world where their daddy killed their mommy.”

He then moved their bodies in the garage. Clara was stuffed in a sleeping bag, while Karina and Yesenia were placed in Rubbermaid bins. Forman went to work on Monday and Tuesday, making a stop at Canadian Tire on Monday night to buy cleaning supplies to remove Clara’s blood from the master bedroom floor.

The bodies were discovered two days later when police went to the Forman home to check on Clara’s well-being.

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