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Question of the Day
BELLEVILLE, Ontario (AP) — The lawyer for a military commander who flew Queen Elizabeth II and other dignitaries around Canada said Thursday his client will plead guilty to murder, sexual assault and dozens of breaking-and-entering charges.
Col. Russell Williams was the commander of Canada‘s largest air force base until he was charged earlier this year with the murder of two women, the sexual assault of two others and 82 break-ins, during which he stole women’s panties.
Michael Edelson, Col. Williams‘ lawyer, told a judge at a hearing Thursday that Col. Williams intends to plead guilty to all the charges at his next court appearance Oct. 18. Col. Williams appeared at the hearing but did not speak.
The case shocked the country, hurt soldiers’ morale and prompted fears that the commander of Canada‘s most high-profile military base and the man who once flew the country’s prime ministers could have been a serial killer.
In 2005, Col. Williams, who was born in England and raised in Canada, was pictured with the British queen and her husband, Prince Philip, on the front page of the newspaper of Canadian Forces Base Trenton while he served as their pilot during a visit.
Col. Williams waived his right to a preliminary hearing in August and was ordered to stand trial and return to court on Thursday. The 47-year-old Col. Williams is charged with the first-degree murder of Jessica Lloyd, 27, whose body was found in February, and Marie Comeau, a 38-year-old corporal under his command who was found dead in her home in November. Both women were asphyxiated.
“Why, why her? How did all this come about? There are so many questions everybody wants to ask,” Mr. Lloyd said outside court. “I think everybody would like to hear him explain what happened. I’m not looking for an apology. It’s not going to hold its weight in anything.”
Lloyd’s mother, Roxanne, held a photo of her daughter in court.
Col. Williams also is charged with forcible confinement, breaking and entering and sexual assault after two other women were attacked during separate home invasions in the Tweed, Ontario, area in September 2009.
In addition, Col. Williams is charged with breaking into 47 homes 82 times, beginning in 2007, including one home nine times. Most homes were burglarized repeatedly on the same street.
Most of the homes Col. Williams is accused of breaking into were in Ottawa, where Col. Williams has a house with his wife, and in the Tweed area, where Col. Williams lived while he worked at Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Trenton, Ontario.
“He’s just a very twisted individual; there’s no two ways about it,” said retired Lt.-Gen. Angus Watt, who once promoted Col. Williams.
“He was able to lead an elaborate double life and was able to keep it successfully concealed. This was the act of a depraved individual and really has no reflection on the men and women of the Canadian Forces.”
Angela McCanny, whose Ottawa home was broken into on back-to-back days in 2008, said that all the women’s underwear in the house was stolen.
By John McAfee
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