> He killed three Toronto sex workers. He was released on parole last week

He killed three Toronto sex workers. He was released on parole last week

Marcello Palma murdered three sex workers in less than two hours. Shoot each one in the head with a .357 Magnum.

Because they were “scum”.

He never denied it. Following his conviction for three counts of first-degree murder, Palma was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. “For all practical purposes, these were executions,” Judge David Watts said.

That was in 2001. Last week, Palma Day received parole.

Because unless a person dies behind bars, there really is no such thing as life imprisonment in Canada. The worst of the worst if they are not declared a dangerous offender – think of Paul Bernardo, think of Russell Williams – will eventually walk out of the gates of the penitentiary.

Palma may be a sexual sadist, and the medical literature may estimate that only one in 10 diagnosed with paraphilia – abnormal sexual desires, typically involving extreme or dangerous activities – can ever be “cured.” But the Parole Board of Canada apparently believes Palma is that guy.

“It is the view of the Board that you will not pose an unnecessary risk to society if you are released and that your release will contribute to the protection of society by facilitating your reintegration into society as a law-abiding citizen,” a two-year-old stated. man’s board panel. in its written decision.

Hard to understand how the community would benefit from Palma being restored to our center, even if he has to return to a shared residence every night for the next six months. But the board was quite impressed with the criminal’s “sincere remorse,” his “high motivation,” the psychological assessment that found him at low risk of violent recidivism, and the “insight” he has gained into his crimes.

Well, bully for Palma. His life can, after all, have a happy ending, unlike the lives of sex traffickers, he ended brutally on a stormy night in Toronto.

It was Victoria Day 1996, about an hour before fireworks exploded above despite the weather. Palma, who was married and the father of a small child, had a quarrel with his airline mistress and broke out in rage. Ramped around the office of his heating and air-conditioning business, hitting and kicking at things and then grabbing a hammer to attack vehicles and equipment belonging to other people.

He went out into the rain in his truck, intent on “popping” prostitutes, even though he had long been a customer of their services. When the owner of six limited firearms – needed them for protection against chaos in the streets and an impending apocalypse, he would later explain – weapons were easy to handle.

Around 11 p.m., he picked up 25-year-old Brenda Ludgate in the King Street West area and drove her to the back of a light supply company where she was to perform oral sex. While there, Palma changed his mind and ordered Ludgate out of the vehicle. When she would not go, he hit her and then pulled her out of the truck. A resident of a nearby apartment building heard a frightened voice shouting what sounded like “No!” before Ludgate was shot in the back of the head. Two days later, Palma confessed to a friend as they chatted at a coffee shop: “She did not want to get out of the car and I jumped her.”

Within 40 minutes of killing Ludgate, Palma picked up sex worker Shawn Keegan, 19, who was in the trade on the corner of Homewood Avenue and Carlton Street. Palma drove Keegan to an apartment building. A witness wanted to tell police he saw Palma and a young man fighting at the top of a stairwell in the parking lot. Palma pushed the teenager down the stairs, heard the court, and then shot him in the head. Shot him again when Keegan appeared to be alive.

Just a few minutes later, Palma crossed paths with his third victim, Thomas (Deanna) Wilkinson, 31, who was walking along Homewood. A resident nearby heard a man shout, “You pig!” and then a shot. Wilkinson’s body – also shot in the head – was not found until the next morning.

In an insane two-hour savagery, Palma had turned himself into a serial killer.

The city was amazed as officers raced from one murder scene to another and a dragon net was thrown over Toronto. However, it was not long before detectives identified a suspect, several people recognized Palma’s truck around his murder scene.

I remember sitting in the backyard of his parents’ home during the manhunt when they insisted the police had made a mistake; that their son, who had no criminal record, would never have done such a terrible thing. His mother – she gave Palma an alibi and claimed he had been at their home that night – also told an Italian newspaper: “Marcella has a beautiful wife. He had no reason to interfere in the street rubbish.”

Police tracked Palma to Montreal and then Halifax, where he was arrested without incident while sitting at the ferry dock.

A ridiculously lengthy hearing – five years, held in jewelery to accommodate the availability of lawyers and psychiatric experts – presented duel versions of the accused. Hard-working family man, suicide depressed under the stress of marital conflicts, a victim of childhood sexual abuse by a school principal, frequent customer of transgender Toronto sex workers, with a trigger rage – he once held a gun to his wife’s head. Shrinks called to stand by defense and prosecution had conflicting opinions. Palma was diagnosed as either having a borderline personality disorder with depressive and paranoid tendencies or a narcissist blaming everyone else for his mistakes.

An agreement on facts did not dispute that Palma had murdered the sex workers, but defense attorney Eddie Greenspan, who claimed the killing was due to a “brief psychotic episode” while in a disassocial state, asked Watts to declare Palma not criminally responsible. Watts ruled against the NCR application.

Palma, now 56, was not heard from again before the probation board met earlier this month.

Palma told the panel he intends to upgrade his trading skills, find a job and help with his elderly mother’s needs.

Can a sexually sadistic serial killer be rehabilitated, considered harmless?

Heaven help the board if they were wrong.

Rosie DiManno is a Toronto-based columnist covering sports and current affairs for Star. Follow her on Twitter: @rdimanno

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