Sentence 'surprised' Kelowna family killer, no consolation to victims' loved ones

Jacob Forman pleaded guilty to the murder of his wife and children.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/JACOB FORMAN

KELOWNA - Knowing that the man who killed her sister and two young nieces won’t walk free until 2052 hasn’t offered much consolation to April Carlson.

“I wasn’t expecting closure from the proceedings,” Carlson said from her home in Portland, Ore. today, Sept. 17, the day after her brother-in-law Jacob Forman’s future was laid out in a Kelowna courtroom. Forman won’t be a free man until he’s 68 years old.

“The entire process has been horrible and painful,” Carlson said. “I certainly don’t feel better, but I can’t describe my feelings right now.”

Justice Allan Betton handed down the sentence for the second degree murder of Clara Forman and first degree murders of her daughters Karina and Yesenia, Monday Sept. 16, following a day-long hearing. Throughout the day the gruesome details of Forman’s 2017 crimes were presented to a full courtroom.

Betton ruled that Forman would not be eligible for parole for 35 years, a potentially precedent-setting decision in B.C. Betton is the first in the province to apply the stacked murdering sentencing principle. In 2011, the Conservative federal government amended the Criminal Code, allowing for parole eligibility to be set out consecutively for multiple murders— a potential 25 years for each murder conviction. 

The decision was not what Forman expected, said his lawyer Raymond Dieno.

READ MORE: Forman pleaded guilty

Dieno said Forman was “surprised” by his sentence, offering little other insight into his client’s state of mind.

Forman himself only spoke once during the hearing, when Justice Betton told the court ahead of the lunch break that he was of the mind to postpone his decision until the next morning.

At that point, Forman stood up and said he’d like to see it over with earlier than later.

Conditions aligned to make that happen and Betton’s decision was offered at the end of the day.

Betton explained that the situation was particularly troublesome because the killings were separate events, occurring several hours apart.

And while Forman may have been angry during the confrontation with his wife, he had time to consider and then carry out the murders of his children, even shovelling the driveway with them and taking them to church, Betton said.

“These were deliberate and horrific acts carried out after the heat of any anger he had toward Clara had to have evaporated,” Betton said.

Forman confessed to the murders Dec. 27, 2017 — just 10 days after committing them, which indicated that the process would have moved along quickly.

That however changed for reasons that seemed to have come from Forman’s side. At one point the trial timeline was set back by a change of lawyer, and he had a change of heart about his jailhouse confession.

In an earlier interview, Dieno said that after being in custody for a while, Forman was of the view he had a mental state defence and he wanted to explore that option.

“At the time he was self-loathing and wanted to punish himself,” Dieno said. “It was a process of learning the law and learning what defences were available.”

Forman’s alleged alcoholism was the main point of contention. Dieno said he drank excessively in the days before murdering his family and then started to go through withdrawal to “devastating consequences.”

An expert was lined up to say as much — or that’s what they had expected, anyway. 

“We had an expert, we did,” Dieno said. “That factored into his plea (Sept. 5). The report from the expert was such that he thought we should plea.”

In the next two weeks, Forman will be transferred to the Kent Institution, a federal prison in Agassiz.

From there, Dieno said, Forman will be classified and sent to a prison that matches his circumstances.


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