Last Updated: January 26, 2011 9:10am
KINGSTON - Terry Douglas Kennedy asked a jury of 12 local citizens to find that he isn't the same man who took the life of a young mother of three in Kingston in 1991 and shouldn't have to wait 25 years to seek parole.
Tuesday, the six women and six men chosen to consider his application gave them their answer: they told him no.
After listening to four days of testimony, including Kennedy's, yesterday morning the 12 deliberated for about two hours. Their foreman told Superior Court Justice Douglas J.A. Rutherford they agreed that Kennedy, 41, should not have his eligibility to apply for parole accelerated.
The foreman also disclosed the jury had made that decision "unanimously," even though the judge had twice told them that unanimity was a requirement only if they found in favour of Kennedy's application.
Jurors also precluded Kennedy from making any further applications to move up his eligibility date, which has stood since 1992 at May 15, 2016.
Kennedy and an unemployed accomplice who had apartments back then in the same Adelaide Street building, both were convicted in July 1992 of first-degree murder in the knife slaying of Margaret Yvonne Rouleau 14 months earlier. They received mandatory life sentences with no eligibility for parole for 25 years.
Rouleau, who operated Nozzles Gas Bar -- long since torn down -- at the corner of Princess and Division Street, was 34 and Kennedy's employer.
She was found dead by her sister on the floor of the gas bar's kiosk, early on a Monday morning, May 6, 1991.
Kennedy testified in front of the jury hearing his "faint hope" application and admitted for the first time publicly that he was the one who actually murdered Rouleau.
He also told them that for the first 12 years he was in prison, he denied responsibility for the crime, initially because he'd hoped to win a new trial on appeal and subsequently because he couldn't face telling the truth to his father, who believed him wrongly convicted.
He finally did admit the murder to prison authorities and his father in 2003. Three years later, having by then served the 15 years requisite to having his parole eligibility reviewed, he applied for his hearing.
Justice Rutherford, in his instructions to the jury, told them their task was "to give some reconsideration to the parole eligibility portion of (Kennedy's) sentence." But he cautioned them that it was not their job to retry the case and "your function is not to express forgiveness or condemnation."
In evaluating Kennedy's character, he told them there was "a lot of evidence" they could consider including the murder itself and Kennedy's long denial of responsibility for the offence, as well as his adherence to the "inmate code," the programs he's taken in prison, his aspirations and what he'd told them about his Wiccan beliefs.
Rutherford suggested that they might want to consider what Kennedy had told them about the relatively small number of misconducts he's accumulated over his 19 years in prison. The judge noted that in each instance except one -- when he was caught with a contraband tattoo needle -- he said that he'd taken the blame for someone else. His explanation for having the needle, the judge noted was "an assertion of his personal freedom to control his body."
The judge observed additionally to the jury that they had been provided with a great deal of information about Kennedy's crime. And while it wasn't for them to retry the case, he told them that they were free to consider and evaluate Kennedy's admissions and account of the day of the murder.
In his testimony at this hearing, Kennedy told his jurors that he wielded the knife that killed Rouleau, but maintained the murder was unplanned.
He told jurors that he and his buddy had planned a bicycle trip through the southern U.S. and into Mexico, hoping to finance it with their savings.
But early spring 1991 rolled around and they didn't have any savings. He admitted to jurors that they then discussed robbing Nozzles and even planned a robbery for the final week in April that year, but claimed he "chickened out."
The following weekend, however, he pilfered money during his shifts, pocketing cash that he should have deposited in the kiosk's drop safe.
Kennedy told the jury that he felt he had to go through with the robbery after that, since Rouleau was bound to discover the discrepancy when she opened for business Monday May 6, 1991, and tallied the receipts. But he insisted he wasn't supposed to actually commit the robbery, that his role was supposed to be to get his friend into the kiosk, which he accomplished by telling Rouleau that he needed to pick up cigarettes for his father.
During his hearing, he testified that he believed he and his partner would be able to rob Rouleau for the rest of the money in the gas bar's safe and get away with it, simply by telling her to lie to police and claim strangers had committed the crime.
He told them he thought she'd go along with that fabrication because the money was insured and because his buddy had brought along the scariest knife from Kennedy's kitchen drawer.
But Kennedy also told them he'd punched Rouleau in the stomach upon entering the kiosk, and that when his buddy handed him the knife, he was the one who held it to her throat and ordered her to open the safe.
He claims he murdered her in a frenzy of fear and anger over the possibility of getting caught after she began screaming and made it clear she wasn't going to provide an alibi for her assailants.
But his version of events doesn't account for all of the injuries inflicted on Rouleau, including bruising and puncture wounds that Kennedy's trial judge ascribed to torture. He testified that he can't remember the specifics of his actions.