Sordid' but 'Understandable under the Circumstances': Kohnke, Croft, and Wilson, 1967

AuthorConstance Backhouse
E ChapterF
Tthe bodyofa nAbori gina lwoman onApri lset
in motion a train of events that displayed Canadian cr iminal justice at its most
callous core. It was a frosty Sunday morning when the body of Rose Marie
Rope ras even tee nye ar oldm emb erof th eEsk ete mcFi rst Nati onA lka li Lak e
Band, was found. Small in stature, she weighed less than a hundred p ounds.
garbage dump on a lonely logging road between Williams Lake and Lac La
Hache, in Cariboo County, central interior British Columbia. The RCMP indi
yet to determine whether she was sexually assaulted as well.
Sexual assault culm inating in homicide was not uncommon in Can ada.
Somemenchokedsuocatedstabbedb eatorstrangled womenandg irls
victims in a violent frenzy aer the sexua laack or in an eort to avoid
being c aught. Such acts could lead to charges of murder, which, if proven,
could result in capital punishment or mandatory li fe imprison ment.
A murder conviction required proof that the accused h ad intended to
cause death, or intended to cause bodily harm that he knew was “l ikely
Even if the as
sailant had no desire to cause death or bodily harm, he could be convicted
Thelawalso recognized anoenceof constructivemurderIfanaccused
wasi nt heproc ess ofcomm iing aser iousc riminal oence such as rape
or indecent assault, and intentionally caused bodily har m to facilitate that
crime, he could be convicted even though he had no wish to kill h is victim,
and had no idea that death was likely to result.
Where the Crown was unable to prove murder, but the court was still
of the view that there had been a cu lpable homicide, the accused could be
convicted for the lesser crime of manslaughter, for which life imprison ment
was the maximum sentence. Where the evidence did not establish culpable
homicide, reduced verdicts could include rape, indecent assault, assault caus
ing bodily harm, common assault or, in extreme case s, accidental homicide
Courtesy of t he Esketem c Land Set tlement O ce, PO Box  , Williams La ke, BC, VG V.
Panoramic view of the Al kali Lake Reserve
A Tragic Childhood
greatest honour to bestow on anyone is to tell stories about them. Should you
decidetotell Rosesstoryshewill behonoured thatmost peoplewill hear
thet rutho fhershortli feRoseMa rieRop erwast heeldes tchi ldofJaco bB
an c es t r y. The Roper fami ly lived at Alkali Lake, an isolated reserve located
kilome tress outhofWi lliam sLakei nhaunt inglyb eautif ulmou ntainous
ranching land covered with forests and fed by t he Fraser River.
The lands around Alka li Lake and Williams Lake had t raditionally be
werewipedoutin smallpoxepidemicsthe whiteselerswhofollowedt he
CaribooGoldRushinthe midnineteenthcentur yhelpedthemselvestothe
land, despite the absence of treaties and in blatant disregard of Aborigi nal
title. Aboriginal resistance proved futile. Five men from the neighbouring
Courtesy of Sandra Archie
The Fraser River landsc ape between the Alkal i Lake and Dog Creek reserves

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT