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  • Need Some Thoughts From The Legal Beagles In The Crowd

    This is an ongoing story that is just sick to it's core. I would like an opinion of the Legal Beagle's in the crowd. Please bear with me and peruse both posts, thanks Guys 'n Gals.

    Handel letters wield words like weapons
    The day he killed his children, Jay Handel wrote three letters full of malicious anger toward his wife, painting himself as the victim

    Adrienne Tanner The Province

    Wednesday, September 24, 2003

    CREDIT: Darren Stone, Special to The Province

    Flowers and pictures are displayed at a memorial service for the six Handel children.

    CAMPBELL RIVER -- The morning he strangled and shot his six children, Jay Handel wrote a bitter suicide note to his wife Sonya.

    The words were intended to wound.

    "Good Luck," it began. "Like I said, you're alone."

    "Enjoy your road to sanity. Don't worry about the kids. They're safe from you."

    He signed the note, "Best wishes and all my love. See you next lifetime. Jay."

    Then he carefully wrapped it in tinfoil and plastic to protect it from the rain and tacked it to the fencepost at their Quatsino home on northern Vancouver Island, where it was sure to be found.

    Jay Handel did not die, however. His suicide attempt failed.

    Today he is standing trial for six counts of first-degree murder. While he admits to killing his children on March 11, 2002, the former logging truck driver has pleaded not guilty by reason of a mental disorder.

    In court yesterday, Handel said he could not remember writing the note to Sonya, or two other letters he posted that morning after killing the children. And he grew testy when asked to speculate about their meaning.

    He snapped at Derrill Prevett, the Crown prosecutor, when he suggested that Handel killed the children because he was refusing to capitulate to Sonya's demands for a divorce.

    "Your perception of this as a contest gone awry is so depraved," Handel said.

    But a 12-page letter he wrote to Dr. Marlene Smith, his family physician, carried the same self-pitying, vindictive tone as his note to his wife.

    Prevett summed up the letter to Smith as a "condemnation of Sonya."

    The letter accused his wife of being controlling, manipulative, mentally unstable and abusive toward the children, all allegations that Sonya denied in court and no one else suggested were true.

    They were the words of a man so totally self-absorbed, he appeared convinced the sole motivation behind Sonya's request for a divorce was to destroy him.

    Indeed, the anger Handel felt toward her was so blatant that even Dr. Stanley Semrau, the forensic psychiatrist appearing for the defence, made note of it.

    In particular, Semrau said, bringing her to the scene to watch the house burn and then slitting his throat in front of her was a "very cruel act."

    Judging by the letter to Smith, however, Handel saw himself as a victim.

    "Marlene, I am a good man," he wrote. "Unfortunately, at this late date, I am also a failure . . . I was berated as being old, uninteresting and lacking vitality."

    He then confessed he killed the children. "In my own poor twisted head, it seems like the right thing to do."

    Handel wrote that his temper was "spawned by the need to declare my existence."

    On the witness stand yesterday, he said he felt no shame over his actions. "God has not seen it necessary that I carry shame as my burden," he said.

    "I am sorry my children are dead today," he said, as if someone else might have killed them.

    After 13 hours of interviews with Handel, Semrau concluded that at the time of the killings, he was unbalanced by stress brought on by his marital and work problems.

    The combination, said Semrau, "resulted in the development of a mental disorder with strong symptoms of depression and anxiety."

    Ultimately, Jay came to see only one way out, to commit suicide and take his children with him, Semrau said.

    His key motivator in killing the children was to "save them and put them in a better place," Semrau said.

    The psychiatrist said he could state that opinion with a "moderate degree of certainty."

    Like all such cases, this one is not clear-cut, he said.

    There is no way to be absolutely certain of Jay's mental state at the time of the killings, Semrau said. "We do not have the psychiatric equivalent of the cockpit flight recorder."

    [email protected]
    Following are letters written by Jay Handel to his wife Sonya, family friend Russell Lubrick and family doctor Marlene Smith in the hours before his six children were found dead and the family home ablaze:
    Dear Sonya,

    Good luck. Like I said, you're alone.

    Remember that time you asked me if my threat of suicide was real and I told you no, that I love my children and life too much to consider such an action. I lied.

    Enjoy your road to sanity. Don't worry about the kids, they're safe from you!!

    Best wishes and all my love. See you next lifetime.

    An afterthought,

    Russell, I still believe in my heart that what you told me is true. You should know that what I told you is also true.

    It is essential that Sonya have one person think one thing while the rest of the community, even you, think that no such thing is happening. A year from now, look who is sitting beside you at dinner, unless of course you have run away.

    I recommend that you do.

    Regards. Jay.
    Dear Marlene,

    I apologize for this morbid missive, but it is necessary. When a man finally loses the golden treasure of his life, it can be a bewildering, though enlightening moment. No matter that it was short-lived.

    In the first week of February, my wife told me that she no longer loved me and wanted to gain control of her own life. By the end of February, she had told her friends and people in our community that we were separated, getting a divorce and that I only came home on the weekends to see the children. It seems that this was "common knowledge" (on a limited scale) and I was the last to know.

    It seems that my work schedule away from home, combined with my frustration at home giving vent to a rage so unpredictably was no longer wanted.

    I have been living with a woman who has Borderline Personality Disorder. I may indeed have it myself, although from where I view the world, it is more a case of responding to this disorder for a long time that has enabled me to be mistaken.

    It is a way of life that I do not recommend.

    My wife has since and just before Christmas been reading the book I Hate You, Don't Leave Me by Dr. Jerold J. Kreisman. She got it from her sister, who has been properly diagnosed with the disorder and between the two of them and the book, my life has rapidly fallen apart. Perhaps it was a huge enough mess to begin with that only I notice the difference.

    In order to acquire (sic) the divorce, my wife has made it clear that she doesn't love, hasn't loved me for years, is seeking new attention from another man, and can't abide working on our relationship any longer.

    After our divorce, I will be expected home on weekends to be the father, husband and lover that I am.

    After much discussion between Sonya and myself, we have worked on a lot of my problems (psyc) and hers as well. No solutions that we come to have brought about a change in Sonya's desires.

    No attempts to reconcile have succeeded and none of my prayers have been answered.

    Small wonder, since her prayers were answered to begin with. Sonya told me that she did not arrive at her conclusion easily, but it is irrevocable.

    This is not the first time in my life that I have been emotionally devastated, but it certainly is the last. I could almost live under her conditions if it weren't for the infidelity and the lack of love. Dangling on such a string for the next year, let alone the rest of my life, is something that I simply cannot do.

    It is impossible for me to have anymore of a "damned either way" life.

    Sonya will no doubt be in psychiatric care after such a devastating event, with many stories of what happened when and why. All of my children show some signs of self-destructive behaviour.

    Levi bites his own fingers hard enough to bruise them, Martial smashed himself and his siblings around regularly, even Lydia smashes her head against the wall.

    Am I responsible. Yes.

    Directly and indirectly, the fault is mine, but not mine alone. All of the behaviour attributed to me is correct.

    Sonya is quite happy with the revelation of being a borderline. It's as though she has at last found a flag to wave. She swears she is sane and that all fault lies with me. I don't see it quite so clearly. The more I search my soul for when and how this happened, the less I understand the causes. A way of life became an illness. For Sonya, the cure is to be alone with me coming in on the weekends.

    For me, the cure is the end of my life, without options. I cannot endure the forced conditions. The point seems only to brutalize me without ending up in prison. She does want to kill me. She has said that the paper way (divorce) is the most effective.

    She's right of course.

    The facade that Sonya presents is a very carefully crafted and maintained look of health and vigor. Try and get her to talk about being raped at the age of 14 by a high school classmate. Her rejection by her family from an early age. No father for the first three years of her life and a mother, who after three older sisters were reared, cared little and appreciated her less.

    One of her prominent memories was of being told that she was her parents' last attempt to have a boy. Eric would have been his name. The one son that her parents did have died at birth (or shortly after.)

    Look at her upper arms and see all of the tiny scars. Most likely, there will be some new cuts there when you see her. It is her self-destructive habit. She crossed her arms and with her middle finger nail, takes the skin off. She has been doing it since childhood.

    Smashing her head on the wall is another one of her traits. Sometimes she'll smash her hand into her forehead repeatedly if she is more comfortable lying down.

    Since her childhood she has become extremely proficient at allowing people to complete her answers with their own thoughts and attributing them to her.

    She can diffuse questions, misdirect reasoning and numerous other ploys in order to remove attention from herself.

    How was I to know that for 12 years, "It's OK, we're fine" meant "stay here, we need you." "I'll be OK in a few minutes" (when physically ill during pregnancies and flus) meant "get me to the hospital now!"

    Marlene, I am a good man.

    Unfortunately, at this late date, I realize that I am also a failure. I cannot bear to die knowing that my children will be in a living hell for the rest of their lives. They have died peacefully but they are nonetheless dead.

    In my own poor twisted head, it seems like the right thing to do.

    My wife is very wary. She can and will always wait to see what is expected of her before she says or does anything. She lays that behaviour at my feet, though it was already well developed when I first met her.

    She insists on variety in order to appease boredom and maintain her interest and then begs for constancy.

    With constancy, I was berated as being old, uninteresting and lacking vitality. My temper was spawned by the need to declare my existence. My berating her was an uncontrolled attempt at gaining the constancy that I live for and desire.

    My frustration is a result of not being able to exist as I perceive myself to be. Now that I can, it is too little, too late.

    Love is lost. Life becomes useless.

    I even have doubts of the paternity of three of my children. Being told that Lydia and Russell Lubrick's daughter, Angela Marie, "look just like sisters" so many times in the last two years does have an effect.

    Being told twice in the last month that she might have more children, a year and a half after my vasectomy, is a heart-stopper too.

    That and a thousand other comments directed at making me think that she and Russell Lubrick are not only having an affair, but that she plans to pursue a relationship with him.

    This is the fourth 'divorce' of my marriage with Sonya. I cannot endure it any longer.

    It must be a monument to human tenacity that endurance has gone this far, but I cannot endure this for another moment.

    I am so ashamed. Sonya wants to be alone. Now she is.

    I am so sorry.

    God has deserted me. Rightly so.

    Jay Handel.

    Quatsino, B.C.

    © Copyright 2003 The Province
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

  • #2

    Here is Friday's installment of the story:

    Handel driven by 'rage,' not disorder
    'Profoundly narcissistic' man knew right from wrong: psychiatrist

    Thursday, September 25, 2003

    Jay Handel, who has admitted killing his six children then setting the family home on fire, hangs his head in a Campbell River courtroom. (Global BC)

    CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. - A man who killed his six children was driven by anger, not mental disorder, a forensic psychiatrist testified Thursday.

    Jay Handel is so self-obsessed, he believed that because his life was in tatters, his children's must also be and all of them would be better off dead, said Dr. Shabehram Lohrasbe.

    He is a narcissist who has no trouble distinguishing right from wrong and in his world, it's only him that matters, he said.

    "His actions after the killings told me the driving motivation was anger towards Sonya and desire to make her suffer.

    "It doesn't suggest any impairment in his ability to distinguish right from wrong."

    Evidence in the B.C. Supreme Court jury trial was completed Thursday and Judge Jim Taylor adjourned court until Monday.

    Lohrasbe said he interviewed Jay Handel as recently as earlier this month and even then, Handel was still raging against his estranged wife and rarely mentioned his dead children.

    "He was quite preoccupied with talking about Sonya. He was preoccupied in a very angry way. He was rageful. He was full of hate towards her," said Lohrasbe, who testified on behalf of the Crown.

    "The children didn't come up much. The fact that he killed the children didn't come up much.

    "What was apparent was the amount of self-pity in this man. He indulges in a degree of self-pity that I found quite striking."

    He said Handel's thinking went like this: " 'If I'm suicidal, they go too. What's the point of their life without me?' That's profoundly narcissistic thinking."

    Handel has admitted to shooting and strangling his three sons and three daughters in March 2002, but he has pleaded not guilty to six counts of first-degree murder, saying he wasn't criminally responsible due to a mental disorder.


    The Crown is attempting to prove Handel had a plan to deliberately kill his children while the defence wants to prove that Handel didn't know it was wrong when he was doing it.

    On Wednesday, Dr. Stanley Semrau testified on behalf of the defence, saying Handel suffers from "adjustment disorder" brought on by stress, depression and anxiety.

    The disorder had twisted his thoughts so deeply that "he came to believe his actions were right," Semrau said.

    "I think he knew in a physical sense he was killing his children," he said.

    He said Handel's understanding was that he was "sending them to heaven and saving them from a horrible fate."

    But though Lohrasbe agreed Handel has a mental disorder, he said it's not depression that prompted the killings.

    "He is immensely narcissistic. Everything else is secondary in trying to make links between what was in his head and what he did," said Lohrasbe.

    "The killing of the children represented an extended suicidal act based on narcissism."

    He said Handel's preoccupation with himself meant he was unable to distinguish between his own needs and those of his children.

    Handel's children were Sebastian, 11, Roxanne 9, Martial, 7, Moriah, 6, Levi, 4 and Lydia, 2.

    Their bodies were found in the burned-out remains of the family home.

    Handel, 46, has admitted to setting the fire. Court has heard in the early morning of March 11, 2002, he picked his wife up from where she was staying at a friend's and drove her to witness the blaze. Then he slit his throat in front of her.

    Lohrasbe said Handel was in a "narcissistic rage" prompted by his wife making it clear the marriage was over.

    "A narcissist can't shake the fact that someone may be moving away from him."

    When Sonya told him the marriage was over "that is the narcissistic blow and all his defences come crumbling down.

    "The rage that comes following that blow is an entitled one: 'Look what she did. I'm a good man.' "

    I am trying without success to guess at how Sonya must have felt when Handel drove her to the family home, to show her what he had done. Some days it is possible to suprise me with the abilities of how one human to inflict pain and suffering upon another. Not often but it does happen.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.


    • #3

      Handel slashes wrists
      Child killer recovers after apparent suicide bid, jury deliberations begin in murder trial

      Kim Westad Times Colonist Wednesday, October 01, 2003

      Don MacLennan, Campbell River Courier-Islander / Sheriffs escort Jay Handel, with bandaged wrists and his head covered by a towel, from Campbell River hospital Tuesday. The sheriffs took him back to the courthouse.

      Angie Poss, North Island Gazette / Jay Handel, shown in January 2002, admitted killing his six children.

      CAMPBELL RIVER -- Jay Handel made an apparent suicide attempt with a razor blade given to him while in custody Tuesday morning, just hours before 12 jurors began deliberating the fate of the Quatsino man who killed his six children.

      Handel was treated at the Campbell River General Hospital and returned to the courthouse about an hour later with wide, white bandages on each wrist.

      The B.C. Supreme Court jury, which deliberated about two hours Tuesday night and will continue today, didn't see Handel on Tuesday. When he was returned to the courthouse, he chose to stay in a cell rather than come into the courtroom to listen to the judge instruct jurors on the law they are to apply to his case.

      Accused people do not have to be present in court at all times. They can simply have their lawyers act as their representatives.

      Handel has appeared every day in court clean-shaven. Sheriffs have been authorized to give him a disposable razor each morning so he can clean up for court. On Tuesday morning, Handel cut both wrists with the razor. It's not known who was with him at the time.

      He has been held at the Campbell River RCMP station during the trial and brought to the courthouse each morning in a sheriff's van.

      Nothing was unusual about his arrival shortly after 9 a.m. on Tuesday. But 20 minutes later, an ambulance came to the back entrance of the courthouse. It left after about 20 minutes, taking Handel to the nearby hospital. Neither lights nor sirens were on.

      Handel was released from hospital at 11:10 a.m. He walked out of the back entrance of the hospital to a waiting sheriff's vehicle, flanked by three sheriffs and with a white towel over his face. Bandages were clearly visible on each handcuffed wrist.

      Defence lawyer John Green would say little about the incident. "Accidents happen," he said. He had no criticisms of the care Handel has received during the trial or the incident, saying the sheriffs have been exemplary.

      "If the sheriffs are guilty of anything, it's of trying to treat Mr. Handel humanely and decently. How can you possibly criticize them for that?"

      Green said he'll not ask that the matter be investigated. Meanwhile, the jury listened to complex instructions on several sections of law from Justice James Taylor.

      The key issue in the case is Handel's mental state at the time of the killings on March 11, 2002. He strangled Lydia, 2, and Moriah, 6, and shot Sebastian, 11, Roxanne, 9, Martial, 7, and Levi, 4. Then he set fire to the family's northern Vancouver Island home. The 46-year-old has admitted to the killings but pleaded not guilty to six counts of first-degree murder, by reason of mental disorder.

      Prosecutor Derrill Prevett said the case is about thwarted control and a desire to hurt his wife, who was leaving him, by destroying everything she held dear. The defence said no loving father -- as Handel was clearly described -- in his sane mind could kill his six children.

      Psychiatric evidence is crucial in the case. Two of Canada's top forensic psychiatrists testified: Dr. Shabehram Lohrasbe, who also testified this week in the Colin Thatcher parole eligibility hearing, and Dr. Stan Semrau, who has dealt with serial killer Clifford Olson.

      Semrau testified for the defence that Handel was suicidal and depressed, his thinking so distorted and irrational that he truly believed he was saving the children from a "hellish existence" by taking them with him to heaven.

      Lohrasbe, who testified for the Crown, disagreed. He said Handel's personality disorder was far more symptomatic of extreme narcissism and his actions were designed to hurt his wife.

      The children were simply an extension of Handel, Lohrasbe said. In Handel's mind, they had no value if he wasn't there. In a narcissist's mind, if they are gone, there is little point in others remaining.

      That two leading psychiatrists can assess the same man and have varying interpretations of his mental state shows how difficult it is to determine a person's state of mind at the time of a crime.

      Now, it's up to the 12 jurors to do that very thing. They have been left with several options as verdicts: guilty as charged of six counts of first-degree murder, guilty of the lesser offences of either second-degree murder or manslaughter, or not guilty by reason of mental disorder.

      First-degree murder must be planned and deliberate. Was it carefully thought out, not hasty, rash or impulsive?

      It is second-degree if the jury finds it was not planned and deliberate. At one point during his testimony, Handel told the jury that the horrific events that night "just happened."

      After deciding which of the three levels of homicide Handel carried out, the jury must determine whether he's criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder.

      A person who was so mentally disordered at the time of an offence that he was not able to know that what he was doing was morally wrong is to be found not criminally responsible.

      Handel must show it was more likely than not that he was suffering from a mental disorder -- a disease of the mind -- at the time of the crimes.

      Both psychiatrists said Handel's personality disorders constitute a mental disorder. But that doesn't automatically excuse him from responsibility under the law.

      The defence must also show, on a balance of probabilities, that the mental disorder was such that he was incapable of knowing that his conduct was morally wrong. That is the crucial test. A person can have a mental disorder and still know that his actions are morally wrong.

      If, at the time of the crimes, he wasn't able to know they were morally wrong because of a disease of the mind, he would be found not criminally responsible.

      Those found not criminally responsible go to the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Port Coquitlam. They stay there until a review board determines they are safe to return to society. Some people stay in hospital longer than they would have spent in prison if convicted.

      The 10-woman, two-man jury resumes its deliberations at 9 a.m. today.

      © Copyright 2003 Times Colonist (Victoria)
      If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

      "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

      "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

      Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

      impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

      IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.


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