Why Was Serial Killer Karla Homolka's Prison Term So Short?

You'll never hear a discussion about Canadian serial killers without the name Karla Homolka coming up. The Ontario-born Homolka raped and killed three teen girls, one of which was her own sister, with her husband in the early '90s. It all began in 1990. A 17-year-old Homolka and her 23-year-old fiancé. Paul Bernardo, were spending the Christmas season at her family home. Enjoying time with them was her younger sister Tammy, who was 15. The soon-to-be husband and wife pair then did the unthinkable, when they drugged, raped, and videotaped themselves assaulting the unconscious teen. During the assault, Tammy awoke and vomited. It led to her choking on her own vomit, which caused her death, per UPI. The couple quickly tried to conceal their involvement in what led to Tammy's death and health officials ruled it accidental.

But more victims were to come. The couple would commit the same crime to 14-year-old Leslie Mahaffy just six months later. The teen vanished from her home in June 1991 and her body was discarded and dumped with concrete blocks in a lake. Just two weeks later, Homolka and Bernardo finally wed. The same day of their wedding, police discovered Mahaffy's remains (via The Star). In 1992, the couple chose another victim. Bernardo abducted 15-year-old Kristen French from her school in April of that year and killed her. French's body was discovered a few weeks later, per The Montreal Gazette. Authorities finally caught up with the couple in 1993, when Bernardo was charged for the two murders, and Homolka charged with manslaughter.

Karla Holmolka's brief stint

A DNA test would also reveal Bernardo to be a serial rapist police called the Scarborough Rapist (Brock Press). He was sentenced to life, and Homolka only got 12 years. But why was her sentence so short?

Homolka was released from prison in 2005 after serving her full sentence (Canadian Encyclopedia). Her relatively brief punishment was the result of a plea deal she took in 1993. As a result of the deal, she testified against Bernardo and explained that her involvement was purely under his orders. She also insisted that she, too, was a victim. Holmolka claimed that Bernardo physically and mentally abused her, and forced her to sexually assault her own sister (via UPI).

But her punishment deal in exchange for testimony became extremely controversial. Video evidence of the couple's recordings of their crimes turned up after her agreement, and it did not fully support what she said on the stand. It turned out that Homolka was a lot more involved than what she initially told investigators and the court, as the videotapes demonstrated her role in the crimes. This led to public scrutiny and some 300,000 people would sign a petition demanding for her case to be reviewed (via Buffalo News).

But nothing came out of the additional review into her deal, and the ruling stood (via another UPI link). Homolka would serve her 12 years and change her name upon her release. The mother of three has since remarried and was last known to live in the province of Quebec.