On July 16, 2011, Lulonda Flett (36) intentionally set fire to the porch of an Austin Street rooming house in a vengeful criminal act aimed at two of her boyfriends’ relatives who she believed “snitched” on her to the Police.
That heinous act resulted in the senseless death of five (5) innocent victims who ranged in age from twenty-two (22) to fifty-six (56) years of age.
Those who died “Were completely innocent victims caught up in a misguided retaliatory strike by this accused,” said prosecuting attorney Liz Thompson. “She had the intent to commit arson, with all the objectively foreseeable consequences, including death.”
Flett would subsequently plead guilty to five (5) counts of Manslaughter and received five (5) concurrent life sentences.
“Life,” when it comes to a Canadian Manslaughter conviction means parole eligibility after the killer serves between seven (7) to twenty-five (25) years. In Flett’s case, she received credit for two (2) years pretrial custody reducing her parole eligibility to a total of five (5) years. If she “plays the rehabilitation game” and takes anger management, shows remorse and stays out of trouble she is a virtual lock for early parole by 2018. (Day Parole would likely be granted sooner.)
When you do the fuzzy math it’s likely Flett will serve no more than five hundred and eleven (511) days for each human being she killed. That’s less than a year and a half per victim.
You would think Flett and her Lawyers would have celebrated the sentence as a monumental victory. Kill five (5) people in 2011 and secure parole by 2018, a pretty astounding result for a convicted killer. I struggle to imagine how Flett wouldn’t view her mere seven (7) years in prison as a minor set back or a trite inconvenience. But no…
Against every common sense decent principle, Flett and her Legal team have filed an appeal suggesting her sentence was somehow harsh and excessive punishment. The appeal also suggests the sentencing Judge didn’t properly take into account Flett’s diminished culpability for her actions due to her cognitive problems and her status as an Aboriginal person who suffered significant childhood abuse. (A familiar story, the relevance of which is subject of much debate.)
Flett and her legal team missed her appeal filing deadline. The story should have died right there, unfortunately, Manitoba’s forgiving Court of Appeal disregarded the tort and allowed Flett to file her notice of appeal and related documents.
The Flett case is a disgusting judicial abomination and represents all that is wrong with the Canadian Justice System. Getting past the plea bargain to Manslaughter is one thing, getting past the sentence and impact of parole is another. Add the generosity of the Court of Appeal into the equation and an insanely inept Justice System is revealed.
The coup de gras is that Flett’s gratuitous appeal and legal fees will be paid for by none other than the average, law-abiding, hard-working tax payer.
It seems to me that option shouldn’t exist for convicted killers like Flett unless she’s able to cover the costs using her own dime. Failing that, if her defense team really believes her sentence was harsh and excessive, then maybe they should have to prove it so on a “pro bono” basis. If they are successful in their argument, then and only then, should the taxpayer be on the hook for the cost of the appeal.
I would expect this kind of stipulation might have a dramatic effect on reducing the number of ridiculous appeals like the one filed by Lulonda Flett.
The Flett case underlines the fact the time has come for some major justice system reform.
I’d be happy to sit on the committee.