Timeline of events in the case of convicted rapist and killer Paul Bernardo

By The Canadian Press

A chronology of events in the case of convicted rapist and killer Paul Bernardo:


June 15 – Leslie Mahaffy, 14, disappears from outside her home in Burlington, Ont., in the early hours of the morning.

June 29 – Mahaffy’s body parts are found encased in concrete blocks in Lake Gibson near St. Catharines, Ont. The same day, Paul Bernardo marries Karla Homolka.


April 16 – Kristen French, 15, is abducted as she walks home from school in St. Catharines.

April 30 – French’s nude body is found in a ditch in Burlington, Ont., 500 metres from Mahaffy’s grave.


Feb. 17 – Police arrest Bernardo at his St. Catharines home.

April 30 – Police end three-month search of Bernardo’s house after warrant expires.

May 6 – Bernardo’s lawyer, Ken Murray, enters house and, after receiving phone call from his client, removes videotapes depicting rapes of four girls including French and Mahaffy.

May 18 – Homolka is charged with two counts of manslaughter in the French and Mahaffy slayings after striking deal with Crown. She is freed on bail.

May 19 – Bernardo is charged with two counts each of first-degree murder, kidnapping, forcible confinement and aggravated sexual assault, and one count of committing an indignity to a body.

July 5 – Justice Francis Kovacs orders delay on publication of most information from Homolka’s trial.

July 6 – Homolka is convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 12 years in prison.


March 30 – Crown files a preferred indictment that cancels Bernardo’s preliminary hearing and sends him directly to trial on the murder charges.

May 4 – Bernardo pleads not guilty to the nine charges.

Sept. 7 – Murray asks to withdraw from the case. Toronto lawyer John Rosen says he’s been asked to represent Bernardo.

Sept. 12 – Rosen formally replaces Murray as Bernardo’s lawyer, and says he needs several months to prepare for trial. Murray gives Rosen videotapes, which Rosen later turns over to police.

Nov. 7 – Rosen says the trial should be moved out of St. Catharines because of intense media coverage.

Nov. 10 – Justice Patrick LeSage agrees to move the trial.


May 3-5 – 12 jurors are selected from pool of about 1,000.

May 18 – Trial begins. Prosecutor Ray Houlahan’s opening statement portrays Bernardo as a sexual sadist who battered and blackmailed Homolka and strangled French and Mahaffy with an electrical cord.

May 31 – Jurors begin watching videotapes depicting sexual assaults on French, Mahaffy, Homolka’s sister Tammy and a girl known in court as Jane Doe.

June 19 – Homolka testifies she was battered into submission by Bernardo and ultimately watched him strangle Mahaffy and French.

July 13 – Rosen, the defence lawyer, concludes cross-examination by alleging French choked to death while Homolka was beating her with a mallet. Homolka denies it.

Aug. 14 – Crown ends its case after three months and 86 witnesses.

Aug. 15 – Defence begins its case. Bernardo admits kidnapping and raping French and Mahaffy to satisfy an ”out-of-control” sex life, but denies killing them. He says both died while he was out of the room.

Aug. 22 – Crown finishes cross-examining Bernardo, and defence wraps up its case.

Aug. 28 – In his closing argument, Rosen admits his client — ”the devil incarnate” — kidnapped, raped and confined the two girls, but says Crown did not prove he murdered the girls. Rosen says Homolka’s testimony was not credible and should not be believed by jurors.

Aug. 29 – Houlahan tells jurors that even if they don’t believe Homolka, they should still convict Bernardo of murder because the videotapes provide ”overwhelming proof” he killed the girls. The prosecutor suggests Homolka would also have been tried for murder if police had the videotapes in 1993.

Sept. 1 – After eight hours of deliberation, jury declares Bernardo guilty on all nine counts. He is sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 25 years on the two murder charges.


May 18 – Bernardo, now 54, is ordered to stand trial for allegedly possessing a homemade shank in the maximum-security prison where he is serving his life sentence.

Oct. 5 – The weapon charge is withdrawn after the Crown says there is no reasonable prospect of conviction.

Oct. 17 – A National Parole Board panel denies Bernardo’s bid for parole.

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